Author Archives: Melanie

Check out the surprise guests at the SJN party

During Smooth Jazz News’ 17th Anniversary Brunch Party & Jam Session at Spaghettini, DW3 commands brunch crowd to wave their hands in the air like they just don’t care (Photo by David Hopley)

Like an orchestra with many different musicians and instruments, publishing Smooth Jazz News requires a lot of people playing a variety of roles. One of the key components of nearly every artistic endeavor is funding. And, for magazines, advertising sales keep the presses rolling. So, each year, we host the Smooth Jazz News Anniversary Brunch Parties & Jam Sessions to show our appreciation to our advertisers.

Spaghettini Champagne Jazz Brunch (clockwise, left to right): Damon Reel, Rick Braun; Rick Braun, Gail Jhonson & Richard Elliot; Christiane Braun & Camella Elliot (Photos by David Hopley)

We invite everyone who has advertised with us in the prior year, along with some special guest artists, to sit in our allocated area of the performance lounge at Spaghettini Fine Dining and Entertainment in Seal Beach, California. The remainder of the lounge and the entire restaurant is open to the public for reservation purchases, so our readers and other jazz fans can also enjoy DW3 (or a featured band) and the special entertainment. And, because we invite so many advertisers, we can’t fit them all into our section, so that’s why we have two parties. They’re usually held in January during the NAMM Show (when a lot of musicians are in Anaheim, California, for that National Association of Music Music Merchants industry-only convention), and in February when DW3 is available to perform.

Conga line parading through Spaghettini’s lounge while DW3 brings the party ON during Smooth Jazz News’ 17th Anniversary party! (Photos by David Hopley)

We held the last of our 2017 parties on Sunday, Feb. 19, with DW3 back onstage in the lounge during Spaghettini’s Legendary Champagne Jazz Brunch. Our musical guests featured trumpeter Rick Braun with his wife Christiane and daughter Emma, saxophonist Richard Elliot and his wife Camella (Rick and Richard are touring this year as West Coast Jam with Norman Brown and a horn section) and keyboardist Gail Jhonson (founder of the all-female ensemble Jazz in Pink).

Camella Elliot (left) takes photos of her husband, Richard Elliot, during his jam with DW3 (Photos by David Hopley)

Our advertisers guest list included concert and festival promoters such as Kim and Ozzie Benoit (Rainbow Promotions), Kim’s dad Al Williams (founder of Rainbow Promotions, who is now retired) and his wife Sandy, Evette Benjamin (Gardena Jazz Festival) and Sandy Riser (Rick Braun’s Signature Events) and her husband Bernie Weisberg.

Celebrating Smooth Jazz News’ 17th Anniversary at Spaghettini in Seal Beach (clockwise, left to right) Camella & Richard Elliot; Al Williams, Ozzie Benoit, Willie Payne, Kim Benoit, Easton Schirra; back row: DW3 (Billy Mondragon, Eric Mondragon & Damon Reel, front row: Joan Giddens, Kathy & Willie Payne, Kim & Ozzie Benoit (Photos by David Hopley)

Kathy and Willie Payne, owners of Payne Pest Management, attended the event with Kathy’s mom, Joan Giddens. The Paynes have been longtime sponsors of many smooth jazz concerts and festivals, including the San Diego Smooth Jazz Festival, scheduled for July 7-9, which is produced by Rainbow Promotions.

Daniel Broadway (Mack Avenue Records) & Easton Schirra; keyboardist Gail Jhonson & trombonist Geoff Alpert; writer Ken Capobianco with his wife, Ratanan (Photos by David Hopley)

Daniel Broadway, the latest addition to Mack Avenue Records‘ sales and marketing team, along with his guest Easton Schirra, got their first glimpse into the live smooth jazz scene at our party.

Brenda Lavery-Madruga, Rick Braun & Emma Braun dancing in the crowd at Spaghettini (Photo by David Hopley)

Artist managers Steve Chapman and Bud Harner of Chapman & Co. Management were there with their wives, photographer-filmmaker Lori Stoll and writer-actor Debra Harner, respectively.

Advertisers and artists celebrating Smooth Jazz News’ 17 anniversary at Spaghettini on Feb. 19, 2017 (left to right): back row: Craig Collier, Willie Payne, Daniel Broadway, Emma Braun, Rick Braun, Ozzie Benoit, Damon Reel, Eric Mondragon, Gail Jhonson, Billy Mondragon, Bud Harner, Lori Stoll, Steve Chapman; front row: Evette Benjamin, Kathy Payne, Christiane Braun, Sandy Riser, Q (Spaghettini manager), Al Williams, Kim Benoit, Richard Elliot, Camella Elliot, Debra Harner (Photo by David Hopley)

These are the people who provide the financial support to allow me, as maestro of sorts for Smooth Jazz News, to compose this magazine along with a team of … Professional journalists who write the stories about the artists and events we love; Seasoned editors who proofread myriad drafts of all of the content contained in each issue; Photographers who capture the images of the artists and this lifestyle; Highly skilled graphic designers who take that copy and those photos and create visually pleasing layouts; A top-notch web press that prints and binds each magazine; An efficient support staff that processes subscription and merchandise orders, handles the mass mailings of the magazines and all administrative duties; Local and national distributors, who deliver bundles of magazines to select outlets. Nearly all of this is being done on a deadline.

Gina Giblin, Smooth Jazz News graphic designer, with her husband Shane at Spaghettini (Photo by David Hopley)

The last few days of production for each issue of Smooth Jazz News are the most intense. That is when final editing happens, layout revisions are made and headlines tweaked, etc. During this time, I sit with our graphic designer, Gina Mancini-Giblin, at her desk going over the pages, choosing photos, placing ads, making corrections and finalizing any changes. A replacement graphic designer, who once filled in for Gina while she sailed on her first Dave Koz & Friends at Sea cruise during one of those deadlines, once described this frenetic process as me being like an air traffic controller directing Gina as though she was dozens of incoming and outgoing aircraft. She said the speed at which we communicated as Gina flew between layouts and files was so fast that she got motion sickness from watching the rapid changes on the computer screen.

Rick Braun at the buffet with fans at Spaghettini (top photo); Willie Payne, Camella Elliot, Cary Hardwick (Spaghettini and Citizen co-owner) & Richard Elliot at Spaghettini’s Legendary Champagne Jazz Brunch (Photo by David Hopley)

Although, we have a bunch of great folks who volunteer to help at concerts and festivals, professional graphic designers, writers, editors, distribution companies, support staff and printing presses don’t work for free. In order to pay them and other business expenses, we rely on advertising sales. Without advertisers, Smooth Jazz News magazine would not have been in business for the past 17 years.

Richard Elliot sitting in with DW3 at Spaghettini, while server Jill Bogle hands Damon Reel a note from a fan (Photo by David Hopley)

We also wanted to include some of these integral, behind-the-scenes contributors in our celebration.

Craig Collier, Smooth Jazz News operations and distribution manager, leads conga line dancers into the lounge at Spaghettini (Photos by David Hopley)

Our beloved writer Ken Capobianco enjoyed the day with his wife, Ratanan, while our newest editor Kerri De Rosier got to share her first-time Spaghettini brunch experience with her dentist husband, Dave.

Kerri De Rosier (SJN editor), Kris Glaeser (SJN volunteer), Felicia Pennington (SJN volunteer), Pete Glaeser (SJN volunteer) and Dr. Dave De Rosier (Photo by David Hopley)

Longtime SJN festival and distribution volunteers Kris and Pete Glaeser, along with Felicia Pennington, celebrated with us as well.

Smooth Jazz News party hostess Brenda Lavery Madruga (photo by David Hopley)

And our parties would not be nearly as fun or successful without the help of Smooth Jazz News hostess Brenda Lavery-Madruga, our outstanding Spaghettini server Angelina Calandrino and her assistants.

Angelina Calandrino, Spaghettini server, providing outstanding service to Smooth Jazz News party guests (Photo by David Hopley)

To everyone, I say THANK YOU! And, I hope to see you next year.––By Melanie Maxwell

For more information about the smooth jazz scene, keep reading Smooth Jazz News, in print or online, www.smoothjazznews.com.

Meanwhile, here are some more photos from the Smooth Jazz News 17th Anniversary Brunch Party & Jam Session at Spaghettini in Seal Beach, California (all photos by David Hopley):

Smooth Jazz News 17th Anniversary Brunch Party & Jam Session at Spaghettini: top photo – Rick Braun dancing with his daughter, Emma; bottom photo – DW3-inspired conga line dancing through the lounge (Photos by David Hopley)

Damon Reel, Rick Braun, Eric Mondragon, Gail Jhonson, Richard Elliot & Billy Mondragon (Photo by David Hopley)

Writer Ken Capobianco, Sandy Williams, Al Williams, Ozzie Benoit, Willie Payne, Kim Benoit, Easton Schirra & Daniel Broadway (Photo by David Hopley)

Al Williams, Kim & Ozzie Benoit, Easton Schirra, Daniel Broadway and more (Photo by David Hopley)

Al Williams chats with Rick Braun & Richard Elliot while Brenda Lavery-Madruga (Smooth Jazz News hostess) looks on (Photo by David Hopley)

DW3 engages brunch crowd at Spaghettini (Photo by David Hopley)

Rick Braun performing with DW3 at Spaghettini (Photo by David Hopley)

Gail Jhonson, Willie Payne, Kim Benoit & Ozzie Benoit at Spaghettini’s Legendary Champagne Jazz Brunch (Photo by David Hopley)

Emma Braun (left) enjoying the music of DW3 at Spaghettini (Photo by David Hopley)

Marcus Anderson at the Smooth Jazz News 17th Anniversary Brunch & Jam Session on Jan. 22 (Photo by David Hopley)

Phillip “Doc” Martin, Ray Parker Jr., Mariea Antoinette, Pat Prescott and Paul Jackson Jr. at the Jan. 22, 2017, party (Photo by David Hopley)

Pat Prescott interviewing Ray Parker Jr. during live broadcast with Los-Angeles-based radio station 94.7 The WAVE at Spaghettini on Jan. 22, 2017 (Photos by David Hopley)

Phillip “Doc” Martin, Ray Parker Jr. and Paul Jackson Jr. at the Smooth Jazz News 17th Anniversary Brunch Party at Spaghettini on Jan. 22, 2017 (Photo by David Hopley)

Legendary singer Al Jarreau dies at 76

Al Jarreau

Al Jarreau, one of the world’s great singers and a song stylist who defied categorization for decades, died today, the same date as the 59th Annual GRAMMY Awards, in Los Angeles at the age of 76.

The seven-time GRAMMY winner had recently announced his retirement from the entertainment business after being hospitalized for exhaustion. Jarreau had fought through respiratory and cardiac issues in recent years.

“We feel very fortunate to have worked with Al, one of the most distinctive and extraordinary vocalists in the music,” says Concord Records President John Burk. “He was truly a force of nature and a beautiful human being that will be fondly remembered and deeply missed by us all.”

Jarreau had little interest in boundaries or preconceived limitations. Since the mid-1970s, he applied his distinctive and instantly recognizable vocal style––a unique combination of lyrical swing and captivating vocalese––to a broad spectrum of musical genres. With this eclectic approach, he earned much success along the way––enough to position him as the only vocalist in history to claim GRAMMY Awards in the three distinct genres of jazz, pop and R&B.

Jarreau’s final recording, My Old Friend: Celebrating George Duke, was released August 5, 2014 on Concord Records, a division of Concord Music Group. The album, which re-interpreted some of Duke’s renowned catalog of post-bop, jazz-fusion, R&B and Brazilian jazz, spent two weeks at #1 on Billboard‘s Contemporary Jazz Albums and Current Jazz charts.

The following statement was posted on his website this morning, http://aljarreau.com/: “A few days ago, I was asked to describe Al to someone who knew of his success, but did not know him as a person. I responded with this: His 2nd priority in life was music. There was no 3rd. His 1st priority, far ahead of the other, was healing or comforting anyone in need. Whether it was emotional pain, or physical discomfort, or any other cause of suffering, he needed to put our minds at ease and our hearts at rest. He needed to see a warm, affirming smile where there had not been one before. Song was just his tool for making that happen.

A few things I think he would want mentioned right now: To Al’s wife, son, sister, brothers, and family: You allowed Al to share himself with the world. He was grateful that you gave him that gift. He knew it was difficult, and regretted that more than he could explain. Please know that your gift was to us, too, and that we are also grateful.

To everyone who attended his concerts, and listened to his albums: He needed you, and you always were there for him, for more than 50 years. He was thankful for you every day, and did his best to show that to each of you.

To his band, and to the many, many talented musicians, writers, composers, and arrangers who played and collaborated with Al over the years: You enabled, supported, and thrilled him. He treasured you, and considered you brilliant. He loved sharing the stage with you, and was honored that you shared it with him.

To each promoter, presenter, and producer: Thank you for your faith in him. Your commitment to Al was both essential and endless, and he never took you for granted.

To his agents, managers, crew, counselors, publicists, and journalists who supported his work, and also to all of the airline, hotel, venue, and other people who hosted him like royalty: He noticed every bit of the dedication and effort that you unselfishly provided, without limits. And, he appreciated you completely.

To young people everywhere, especially the musicians he was grateful to meet at school workshops, musical competitions, residencies, and at concerts: From you, Al asks a favor. Please find any artistic thing that you can do with passion, and do it. With art in your life, you will be a better family member, neighbor, friend, and citizen.

Finally, to Al Jarreau: Thank you Al, from all of us. You completed your ministry in a beautiful and gracious way. Godspeed … you’ve earned it.”

He is survived by his wife, the former Susan Player; a son, Ryan; two brothers, Marshall and Appie; and a sister, Rose Marie Freeman.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Wisconsin Foundation for School Music, http://foundation4schoolmusic.org/lifetime-achievement-award/al-jarreau/.

I will be updating this post with more information shortly, so please keep checking back.

By: Melanie Maxwell

Al Jarreau (Photo by: Marina Chavez)

Smooth jazz in a magnificent resort setting

The Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort & Spa Announces Spring 2017 Performances for “Grooves at The Westin” Jazz Concert Series

The Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort & Spa in Rancho Mirage, California

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – January 20, 2017 – The Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort & Spa announces the line-up of the next four concerts with world-class musicians performing in the beautiful outdoor resort setting of the Masters Plaza, weather permitting. Prices vary for seating options from $45 to $99, but all seats offer exceptional views.

The concert schedule is as follows:

Greg Adams & East Bay Soul

Saturday, February 18, 7 p.m. – Greg Adams and East Bay Soul, LA Collective featuring Adam Hawley and Greg Manning with special guest Eric Darius

Eric Darius (photo by Jeff Sciortino)

Greg Adams and East Bay Soul will move you with a performance that keeps the funk alive.  A combination of instrumental funk, soul jazz and rhythm and blues vocals, East Bay Soul creates a union that is nothing short of musical wizardry. Opening the show is the high-energy performance of LA Collective featuring Adam Hawley and Greg Manning with chart-topping saxophonist Eric Darius.

The sound of Greg Adams and East Bay Soul is one of the world’s best-known musical signatures, with a musical journey that has spanned more than four decades.  Adams is a founding member of Tower Of Power, legendary for the arrangements that made the TOP horn section a sought out entity all its own. Greg Adams is the driving force behind East Bay Soul. The expansive ensemble is a blend of Funk Jazz, R&B and Soul. East Bay Soul with a most soulful ensemble creates a union that has been nothing short of musical wizardry. Their extraordinary combined talents all bring incredible energy to the music with heart and soul.  East Bay Soul is dedicated to a singular vision of bringing their brand of funk and the magic of their live performance into every note they play.

Los Angeles Collective, LA Collective for short, is a group of five producers/ musicians/ engineers/ artists/ songwriters who collectively create a variety of versatile styles of music such as Rock, Funk, Dance, Disco, Ska, Punk, Hip-Hop, Reggae, Metal, Country, Folk, R&B, Blues, Electro, Pop, Jazz, Samba, Bossa Nova, Cumbia, Tropical, Merengue, Punta, Indy, etc. Their high-energy performances have been delighting audiences since 2011. Joining them is chart-topping recording artist, Eric Darius. A contemporary jazz saxophonist and composer, Darius’s music has been described as a combination of jazz, R&B, hip-hop and pop.

Tickets for the February 18th show can be purchased at https://www.tix.com/Event.aspx?EventCode=932272

Mindi Abair

Saturday, March 4, 7 p.m. – Mindi Abair

The smooth Lady of Saxophone comes to the Westin for the first time. In a career that spans seven solo albums and countless collaborations in the studio and live on stage, Mindi Abair has made her mark as one of the most recognizable saxophonists in the United States. She has appeared on stage with Bruce Springsteen for a historic night at the Beacon Theater, performed with Paul Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra on the “Late Show with David Letterman,” and is the only saxophonist to tour with rock legend Aerosmith since 1973. She has earned the respect of top-shelf artists representing just about every genre of music. Abair’s solo work has garnered ten #1 radio hits, six top-five spots and two #1 spots on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz album chart. Abair received a 2014 GRAMMY nomination in the Best Pop Instrumental Album category for Summer Horns, a #1 recording with her friends Dave Koz, Gerald Albright and Richard Elliot, and more recently she received a 2015 GRAMMY nomination for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album for her solo CD “Wild Heart.”

Tickets for the March 4th show can be purchased at http://www.tix.com/Event.aspx?EventCode=939392

Rick Braun

Saturday, March 18, 7 p.m. Rick Braun and special guest Josh Vietti

Rick Braun is a smooth jazz trumpet player, multi-instrumentalist and producer known for his gregarious and charismatic performances. However, the humble trumpeter-flugelhorn player-vocalist Braun is “grateful to still be making music with friends.” Braun is a consistent chart-topper who has amassed a catalogue of No. 1 Billboard Contemporary Jazz chart and radio hits throughout his solo career that began in earnest in 1992. A two-time winner of the Gavin Report’s Smooth Jazz Artist of the Year award, Braun excels playing any style and genre of music, and his style on the trumpet is unrivaled. In addition to his solo career, Braun also plays in the band BWB, with saxophonist Kirk Whalum and guitarist Norman Brown. In 2005, he and saxophonist Richard Elliot co-founded ARTizen Music Group.

True to his reputation, Rick Braun brings a smooth, mellow and heartfelt performance to Grooves at The Westin. Rick Braun’s inimitable style of jazz trumpet delivers an experience straight to the soul. Joining him is Josh Vietti, Grammy-nominated hip-hop/pop violinist from southern California who incorporates pop, classical, country, gospel and jazz into his performances.

Tickets for the March 18th show can be purchased at http://www.tix.com/Event.aspx?EventCode=932275

Peter White

Saturday, April 1, 2017, 7 p.m. – Peter White with All-Star band featuring Michael Paulo

Undoubtedly one of the most popular figures in smooth jazz and a jazz fusion guitarist and songwriter, Peter White is a veteran on the scene. Over the years, Peter White has maintained a reputation as one of the most versatile and prolific acoustic guitarists on the contemporary jazz landscape. Armed with an unparalleled combination of lyricism and energy, he combines elements of jazz, pop and classical guitar to create a sound that is singular and at the same time accessible to a broad audience. He is known for his 20-year collaboration with Al Stewart. In addition, his songs “Midnight in Manhattan”, recorded by Grover Washington, Jr. (1998), and “Bright” (2009) have each reached number one on the Billboard Jazz Songs chart.

Back by popular demand White brings his endearing style and immense talent on acoustic guitar back to Grooves at The Westin, where he will be performing songs from his 15th solo release “Groovin” and will be joined by saxophonist Michael Paulo and keyboardist Gregg Karukas.

Tickets for the April 1st show can be purchased at http://www.tix.com/Event.aspx?EventCode=932276

Post sponsored by The Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort & Spa, 71333 Dinah Shore Dr., Rancho Mirage, California. (760) 328-5955

RIP: Alphonse Mouzon, Legendary Jazz Drummer

Alphonse Mouzon
(Nov. 21, 1948-Dec. 26, 2016)

It is with great sadness we report that legendary jazz drummer Alphonse Mouzon passed away today after a recent battle with neuroendocrine carcinoma, a rare form of cancer. He was 68 years old.

alphonse collage

Mouzon, who was born in Charleston, South Carolina, was a charter member of the group Weather Report. Along with guitarist Larry Coryell, Mouzon was co-founder of ’70s fusion band The Eleventh House. Mouzon and Coryell still tour together in a trio and with the Eleventh House.

He also played and/or recorded with Kenny G, Dave Koz, Richard Elliot, Lee Ritenour, David Benoit, Gerald Albright, Russ Freeman, George Howard, Kirk Whalum, Jeff Lorber, Gregg Karukas, Roy Ayers, George Benson, Herbie Hancock, Dizzy Gillespie, Stanley Clarke, Al DiMeola, Les McCann, Ronnie Laws, Jaco Pastorius, Joey DeFrancesco, Stanley Turrentine, Freddie Hubbard, Hubert Laws, Donald Bird, Chet Baker, Randy Brecker, Michael Brecker, Ernie Watts, Sonny Rollins, Arturo Sandoval, Christian McBride, John Klemmer, Billy Harper, Dave Grusin, ex-girlfriend Roberta Flack, Sheila E., Denise Williams, Freda Payne, and numerous others. In 1991, he performed with Miles Davis on the movie soundtrack Dingo.

Mouzon’s rock-pop credentials include gigs with Stevie Wonder, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Carlos Santana, Chubby Checker, Deep Purple and others.

Mouzon notified Smooth Jazz News via the following email on Nov. 1 of his illness:

September 7, 2016, I was diagnosed with Stage 3-4 Neuroendocrine Carcinoma, an incredibly rare cancer. On October 10, 2016, I went to Kaiser Permanente for a scheduled appointment with my Oncologist – but I was immediately admitted into the hospital because my lab test results revealed that my kidneys were failing. I was told by my Nephrologist that if I went back home, I would die. I was hospitalized for 13 days straight and was finally released from Kaiser Permanente on October 23, 2016. While I was hospitalized, my surgeons tried to place stents in my left and right kidneys but were unsuccessful because of size of my malignant pelvis mass. They instead performed a nephrostomy on my left kidney on October 11th and on my right kidney on October 18th. I currently have catheters coming out of my back to drain the urine from my kidneys into two external bags. On top of this, I was told that I suffer from Anemia (you couldn’t tell from my drumming), borderline diabetes, and that my 2006 Prostate Cancer has returned. Well, I’ve known about the prostate cancer since March because my PSA rose up to 63. I’ve been taking injections every three months to bring down my PSA level, and luckily it has gone down to 6. As for my Neuroendocrine Carcinoma cancer, my Oncologist and Nephrologist aren’t giving me a chance to survive, but my faith in God is strong and I know that anything is possible through Him! My kidneys are too weak for the doctors to perform chemotherapy, but I know that through God’s grace, I will beat my rare cancer and I will soon beat my drums again. The renown C.H.I.P.S.A. Gerson Therapy Hospital in Mexico specializes in natural cancer treatments and boasts a 95% cancer treatment successful rate, but I must raise enough money ($32,000) for these natural treatments. With the financial support of strangers, fans, family and friends, I know that I can overcome this battle. I want to be around for my beautiful children, grandchildren, family, friends and fans! I’ve started a GoFundMe campaign at to raise money for my rare Neuroendocrine Carcinoma cancer treatments. Please keep me alive by donating as much as you can to my GoFundMe campaign. https://www.gofundme.com/AlphonseMouzon No amount is too big or too small, and your prayers are greatly appreciated. Thanks a Million for your support. Sincerely, Alphonse Mouzon

Mouzon’s GoFundMe campaign had raised $61,084 at the time of his death.

For more information on Mouzon, visit http://www.tenaciousrecords.com.

By Melanie Maxwell

Dazzling Dave Koz & David Sanborn: Side by Side Tour

In the last week of their Side By Side tour, Dave Koz & David Sanborn dazzled fans in San Diego at Humphreys Concerts by the Bay on Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016.

David Sanborn & Dave Koz during sound check before their show at Humphreys Concerts by the Bay (Photo by David Hopley)

David Sanborn & Dave Koz during sound check before their show at Humphreys Concerts by the Bay (Photo by David Hopley)

The Platinum-selling saxophonists have a few days off the tour bus before concluding their tour, which began on July 30.

David Sanborn & Dave Koz during at Humphreys Concerts by the Bay (Photo by David Hopley)

David Sanborn & Dave Koz at Humphreys Concerts by the Bay in San Diego (Photo by David Hopley)

Air travel will transport the co-headliners, along with their band (comprising guitarist Randy Jacobs, Andre Berry on bass, Frank “Third” Richardson on drums and Ramon Yslas on percussion), to the Greater Charleston Lowcountry Jazz Festival in North Charleston, South Carolina (Sept. 2); and Warren Hill’s Cancun Jazz Festival, an all-inclusive vacation at the Hard Rock Hotel (Sept. 3).

Andre Berry, David Sanborn, Dave Koz, Randy Jacobs, Frank "Third" Richardson & Ramon Yslas backstage before their show at Humphreys Concerts by the Bay in San Diego (Photo by David Hopley)

(left to right) Andre Berry, David Sanborn, Dave Koz, Randy Jacobs, Ramon Yslas, Frank “Third” Richardson & Ricky Peterson backstage before their show at Humphreys Concerts by the Bay in San Diego (Photo by David Hopley)

Meanwhile, check out images from the Dave Koz & David Sanborn: Side by Side performance at Humphreys Concerts by the Bay in San Diego, California. (Photos by David Hopley)

David Sanborn & Dave Koz perfecting their sound before their San Diego performance (Photo by David Hopley)

David Sanborn & Dave Koz perfecting their sound before their San Diego performance (Photo by David Hopley)

DKDS3

DKDS4

DKDS5

Practice. Prayer. Performance. Perfection! (Photo by David Hopley)

Practice. Pray. Perform. Perfection!
(Photo by David Hopley)

David Sanborn, Randy Jacobs & Dave Koz jammin' in San Diego (Photo by David Hopley)

David Sanborn, Randy Jacobs & Dave Koz jammin’ in San Diego
(Photo by David Hopley)

(left to right): David Sanborn, Sanborn & Dave Koz, Humphreys Concerts by the Bay venue in San Diego (Photos by David Hopley)

(left to right): David Sanborn, Sanborn & Dave Koz, Humphreys Concerts by the Bay venue in San Diego
(Photos by David Hopley)

Bravo!

Bravo!

For more information on Dave Koz and David Sanborn, visit www.davekoz.com and www.davidsanborn.com, respectively.

By Melanie Maxwell, Aug. 30, 2016

Last call for Art, Jazz, Wine & Chocolate

Today is the final Art, Jazz, Wine & Chocolate show at Festival of Arts in Laguna Beach, California. It’s also the conclusion of jazz performances at the 80-plus-year-old festival in Laguna Beach, California, which also features the spectacular Pageant of the Masters. However, a variety of music will accompany the more than 140 art exhibits daily until this year’s conclusion on Wednesday, Aug. 31.

Images from the 2016 Festival of Arts, Pageant of the Masters and various concert series

Images from the 2016 Festival of Arts, Pageant of the Masters and various concert series

Throughout its 2016 run, which began on July 5, an expansive palette of other special events and activities were offered to festivalgoers. These include Concerts on the Green, Sunday in the Park Music Series, Rising Stars Music Series, Books and Brunch and Festival Runway Fashion.

Check out my review of this summer’s festivities, which began on July 5, in “Notes from the Publisher” in the August-September issue of Smooth Jazz News. Read it in print or the digital version online at www.smoothjazznews.com.

For more information on Festival of Arts and Pageant of the Masters, located at 650 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, California, visit www.foapom.com or call 800-487-3378.

By Melanie Maxwell

Love Soul Music and Cruising? Curious about Cuba?

It’s been 50 years since cruise ships were allowed to travel from the United States to Cuba. To celebrate, Capital Jazz Productions presents The Soul Cruise, the first-ever music cruise from the U.S. to Cuba since restrictions to that country were lifted.

Read about Capital Jazz's Soul Cruise to Cuba on pages 16-17 in the August-September issue of Smooth Jazz News

Read about Capital Jazz’s Soul Cruise to Cuba on pages 16-17 in the August-September issue of Smooth Jazz News

Kem

Kem is scheduled to perform on the Capital Jazz Soul Cruise

While music cruising has become extremely popular within the jazz community, this inaugural sailing aboard the 704-passenger Fathom Adonia will feature soul music and R&B. Hosted by Eric Roberson, the musical lineup on this full-ship charter includes Kem, Rahsaan Patterson, Lalah Hathaway, Naturally 7, Frank McComb, Avery Sunshine, Kenny Lattimore, Mint Condition and comedian Michael Colyar, with more artists to be announced.

Rahsaan Patterson (Photo by Raj Naik)

Rahsaan Patterson (Photo by Raj Naik)

Naturally 7

Naturally 7

This unique experience will also be part of a newly created category of travel called “impact travel” which focuses on “Travel with a Purpose,” providing travelers the opportunity to immerse in other cultures and work alongside people from other countries to create enduring social impact.

For more information on The Soul Cruise to Cuba, scheduled for Feb. 19-26, 2017, with embarkation in Miami and ports of call at Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba, see pages 16-17 of the August-September issue of Smooth Jazz News.

To subscribe to Smooth Jazz News, visit www.smoothjazznews.com.

To read the digital version of the magazine, click here  https://issuu.com/awodigitaledition/docs/smooth_jazz_news_augustseptember_20?e=2076238/37596823

For more information on The Soul Cruise, visit www.capitaljazz.com.

By Melanie Maxwell

Smooth Jazz News 16th Annniversary Party No. 2

Felicia Pennington, Evette Benjamin & Yvette Perkins celebrating Smooth Jazz News' 16th anniversary at Spaghettini in Seal Beach, CA (photo by David Hopley)

Felicia Pennington, Evette Benjamin & Yvette Perkins celebrating Smooth Jazz News’ 16th anniversary at Spaghettini in Seal Beach, CA (photo by David Hopley)

One of my favorite aspects of this year’s Smooth Jazz News anniversary brunch and jam session was our first-time guests. The people who sit in our reserved section at Spaghettini in Seal Beach are those who advertised with us the prior year. Many of them I had previously communicated with only by phone and through email. So, meeting them in person and sharing this special day was a whole lot of fun!

Cheryl Barnes & her husband Phil Cabasso sit in with the Derek Bordeaux Band at Smooth Jazz News' 16th Anniversary brunch party & jam session (photo by David Hopley)

Cheryl Barnes (right) and her husband Phil Cabasso (left) sit in with the Derek Bordeaux Band at Smooth Jazz News’ 16th Anniversary brunch party & jam session (photo by David Hopley)

It’s also quite thrilling for me to introduce artists to concert and festival promoters. Making a connection in this casual setting gives each of them a chance to get to know each other on a personal basis. It’s even more exciting when I discover that an artist got booked by a promoter they met during one of our parties. Saxophonist Elan Trotman met Kimberly Benoit of Rainbow Promotions at our event last year, and now he’s on the schedule for her Long Beach Jazz Festival in August.

Al Williams (drummer & Rainbow Promotions founder) with guitarist Freddie Fox at Spaghettini (photo by David Hopley)

Al Williams (drummer & Rainbow Promotions founder) with guitarist Freddie Fox at Spaghettini (photo by David Hopley)

And, thanks to the generosity of Cary Hardwick and Laurie Sisneros (co-owners of Spaghettini), we got a couple of slots of airtime during 94.7 The WAVE’s live broadcasts at both brunches. During the first of two Sunday celebrations on Jan. 24, Trotman got a chance to chat about his Barbados Jazz Excursion (http://barbadosjazzexcursion.com/) in October with Pat Prescott (The WAVE’s weekday morning host).

Warren Hill, Gregg Karukas and 94.7 The WAVE weekday afternoon host broadcasting live from Spaghettini in Seal Beach, CA (photo by David Hopley)

Warren Hill, Gregg Karukas and 94.7 The WAVE weekday afternoon host broadcasting live from Spaghettini in Seal Beach, CA (photo by David Hopley)

At our next brunch party on Feb. 21, saxophonist Warren Hill and keyboardist/composer Gregg Karukas got on the mic with Deborah Howell (The WAVE’s weekday afternoon drive host). Hill gushed about his 15-year-old daughter, Olivia Rox, and her journey as a contestant on the final season of “American Idol.” He also plugged his Cancun Jazz Festival, scheduled for Labor Day weekend at the all-inclusive Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya (www.cancunjazz.com).

Gregg Karukas & Craig Collier celebrating Smooth Jazz News' 16th anniversary at Spaghettini (photo by David Hopley)

Gregg Karukas & Craig Collier celebrating Smooth Jazz News’ 16th anniversary at Spaghettini (photo by David Hopley)

Karukas discussed the Divine Jazz Cruise, an intimate, all-inclusive luxury sailing with Michael Paulo, Ray Parker Jr. and Kiki Ebsen, scheduled for May 6-11. The five-day excursion aboard the Crystal Serenity cruises from San Francisco to Vancouver, Canada, with ports of call at Astoria, Oregon; Seattle, Washington; and Victoria, British Columbia (www.divinejazzcruise.com).

Jeff & Lynn Rudin of Divine Jazz Cruise (photo by David Hopley)

Jeff & Lynn Rudin of Divine Jazz Cruise (photo by David Hopley)

And, for the first time, we got to hang out with Lynn and Jeff Rudin, producers of the Divine Jazz Cruise, and vocalist Cheryl Barnes with her piano-playing husband Phil Cabasso. They got to meet and mingle with our regulars such as Al and Sandy Williams (Rainbow Promotions) and Evette Benjamin (City of Gardena, producers of the Gardena Jazz Festival).

Gregg Karukas sitting in with Freddie Fox (center) and Derek Bordeaux (right) during Smooth Jazz News' 16th Anniversary Brunch celebration at Spaghettini in Seal Beach, CA (photo by David Hopley)

Gregg Karukas sitting in with Freddie Fox (center) and Derek Bordeaux (right) during Smooth Jazz News’ 16th Anniversary Brunch celebration at Spaghettini in Seal Beach, CA (photo by David Hopley)

Another first was that DW3 wasn’t able to perform at our second brunch because they were booked out of the country on several jazz-themed cruises. So, the Derek Bordeaux Band was on stage, and joined by some of our musical guests, including Karukas, Barnes and Cabasso.

Joanne & Herb Hein dancing at Smooth Jazz News' 16th anniversary brunch & jam session (photo by David Hopley)

Joanne & Herb Hein dancing at Smooth Jazz News’ 16th anniversary brunch & jam session (photo by David Hopley)

In this fast-paced world we spin around in where email and social media platforms have overtaken the truly personal form of communication, face-to-face engagement without the vice of a mobile device, it is refreshing to enjoy human connection with friends (old and new), delicious food, champagne, craft cocktails and uplifting music. We can’t wait to do it again next year!

Crowd enjoying music & brunch in Spaghettini's lounge, which sold out during Smooth Jazz News' 16th anniversary brunch (photo by David Hopley)

Crowd enjoying music & brunch in Spaghettini’s lounge, which sold out during Smooth Jazz News’ 16th anniversary brunch (photo by David Hopley)

Thank you all for allowing us at Smooth Jazz News to serve this wonderful community of fans, artists, musicians, promoters, venues and record labels for more than 16 years!

By Melanie Maxwell

Buttermilk-fried chicken with biscuit & gravy and chicken and waffles are two popular menu items that are served at Spaghettini's brunch in addition to their buffet! (photo by David Hopley)

Buttermilk-fried chicken with biscuit & gravy and chicken and waffles are two popular menu items that are served at Spaghettini’s brunch in addition to their buffet! (photo by David Hopley)

For details on the next Smooth Jazz News Anniversary Brunch Party & Jam Session, scheduled for Jan. 22 and another date in 2017, visit this blog often and check out the magazine for further announcements. For more information on Spaghettini Fine Dining & Entertainment, located at 3005 Old Ranch Pkwy., Seal Beach, California, visit www.spaghettinisb.com or call 562-596-2199.

Sliced sirloin is an additional menu item served during Spaghettini's Legendary Champagne Jazz Brunch in Seal Beach, CA (photo by David Hopley)

Sliced sirloin is an additional menu item served during Spaghettini’s Legendary Champagne Jazz Brunch in Seal Beach, CA (photo by David Hopley)

Vocalist Cheryl Barnes with her music director-keyboardist husband Phil Cabasso (photo by David Hopley)

Vocalist Cheryl Barnes with her music director-keyboardist husband Phil Cabasso (photo by David Hopley)

Happy 16th Anniversary to us!

Jazz fans enjoying DW3 & the Smooth Jazz News Anniversary Brunch at Spaghettini (photo by David Hopley)

Jazz fans enjoying DW3 & the Smooth Jazz News Anniversary Brunch at Spaghettini on Jan. 24, 2016 (photo by David Hopley)

More than a decade ago, we began hosting a brunch party for our advertisers each December at Spaghettini Italian Grill & Jazz Club in Seal Beach California. Back then, we reserved a private dining room to celebrate the holidays and to thank all of the people who had advertised with us throughout the year. We also invited our staff, volunteers and a couple of artists and musicians. One year, Phil Perry sang as Ray Fuller accompanied him on guitar, all unplugged, and all within the intimate “Wine Cellar Room” in the back of the restaurant.

Phil Perry & Ray Fuller serenade the Smooth Jazz News crew during the 5th Anniversary Brunch Party at Spaghettini in Seal Beach, CA (photo by David Hopley)

Phil Perry & Ray Fuller serenade the Smooth Jazz News crew during the 5th Anniversary Brunch Party in 2004 at Spaghettini in Seal Beach, CA (photo by David Hopley)

As the popularity of the magazine grew, thanks to the support of our advertisers and loyal readers, so did attendance at our anniversary parties. So, we moved our the festivities into the performance lounge. There, we reserved 25- to 30 seats, leaving several tables and bar stools available for the general public to reserve. Now, everyone could celebrate with us and also enjoy performances by our special musical guests, which have included Dave Koz, Peter White, Rick Braun, Brian Culbertson, Richard Elliot, Euge Groove, Mindi Abair, Paul Taylor, Keiko Matsui, Gregg Karukas, Steve Oliver & more.

94.7 The WAVE's Pat Prescott interviews Barbados-born saxophonist Elan Trotman during a live broadcast during the Smooth Jazz News Anniversary Brunch & Jam Session at Spaghettini (photo by David Hopley)

94.7 The WAVE’s Pat Prescott interviews Barbados-born saxophonist Elan Trotman during a live broadcast during the Smooth Jazz News Anniversary Brunch & Jam Session at Spaghettini (photo by David Hopley)

Smooth Jazz News party hostess Brenda Lavery Madruga (photo by David Hopley)

Smooth Jazz News party hostess Brenda Lavery Madruga (photo by David Hopley)

Melanie Eder and Smooth Jazz News graphic designer Gina Mancini-Giblin (photo by David Hopley)

Melanie Eder and Smooth Jazz News graphic designer Gina Mancini-Giblin (photo by David Hopley)

We soon outgrew that space, so we started hosting two brunch parties on separate Sundays. And, that’s what we continue to do today. We celebrated the 16th year of publishing Smooth Jazz News on Sunday, Jan. 24, at Spaghettini Seal Beach, and I’m posting photos from that here.

Gail Jhonson & Marqueal Jordan sitting in with DW3 during the Smooth Jazz News Anniversary Brunch & Jam Session (photo by David Hopley)

Gail Jhonson & Marqueal Jordan sitting in with DW3 during the Smooth Jazz News Anniversary Brunch & Jam Session (photo by David Hopley)

Gail Jhonson (center) with Kathy & Willie Payne of Payne Pest Management (photo by David Hopley)

Gail Jhonson (center) with Kathy & Willie Payne of Payne Pest Management (photo by David Hopley)

We’re hosting our second brunch party on Feb. 21. And, I hope you can celebrate with us. Vocalist Derek Bordeaux will performing in the lounge, and our some of our guest artists will sit in with the band. GRAMMY-winning keyboardist Gregg Karukas will be among then.

Reserve your table now for Smooth Jazz News' 16th Anniversary Brunch & Jam Session scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 21 at Spaghettini in Seal Beach, CA

Reserve your table now for Smooth Jazz News’ 16th Anniversary Brunch & Jam Session scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 21 at Spaghettini in Seal Beach, CA (photo by David Hopley)

Smooth Jazz News’ 16th Anniversary Brunch Party & Jam Session is scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 21, 11am, at Spaghettini Fine Dining & Entertainment, 3005 Old Ranch Pkwy., Seal Beach, California. For reservations and information, call 562-596-2199 or visit www.spaghettinisb.com.

Elan Trotman jams with DW3 at Spaghettini during the Smooth Jazz News Anniversary Brunch & Jam Session (photo by David Hopley)

Elan Trotman jams with DW3 at Spaghettini during the Smooth Jazz News Anniversary Brunch & Jam Session (photo by David Hopley)

Las Vegas-based saxophonist (and Coolio manager) Jarel "Jarez" Posey sits in with DW3 at Spaghettini (photo by David Hopley)

Las Vegas-based saxophonist (and Coolio manager) Jarel “Jarez” Posey sits in with DW3 at Spaghettini (photo by David Hopley)

Tracy Carter sings his heart out while Marqueal Jordan sits in with DW3 at Spaghettini (photo by David Hopley)

Tracy Carter sings his heart out while Marqueal Jordan sits in with DW3 at Spaghettini (photo by David Hopley)

Saxophonist Rick Parma & Canadian trumpeter Gabriel Hasselbach (photo by David Hopley)

Saxophonist Rick Parma & Canadian trumpeter Gabriel Hasselbach (photo by David Hopley)

Gabriel Hasselbach, Jeff Villaluna, Rob Tardik, Jarez "Jarel" Posey Eric Mondragon, Damon Reel, Gail Jhonson, Pat Prescott, Marqueal Jordan, Kathy Payne, Billy Mondragon, Charles Streeter, Rick Parma & Willie Payne (Photo by David Hopley)

Gabriel Hasselbach, Jeff Villaluna, Rob Tardik, Jarez “Jarel” Posey Eric Mondragon, Damon Reel, Gail Jhonson, Pat Prescott, Marqueal Jordan, Kathy Payne, Billy Mondragon, Charles Streeter, Rick Parma & Willie Payne (Photo by David Hopley)

Brunch buffet at Spaghettini Fine Dining & Entertainment in Seal Beach, California (photo by David Hopley)

Brunch buffet at Spaghettini Fine Dining & Entertainment in Seal Beach, California (photo by David Hopley)

Gift baskets raffled off by 94.7 The WAVE during Sunday brunch at Spaghettini (photo by David Hopley)

Gift baskets raffled off by 94.7 The WAVE during Sunday brunch at Spaghettini (photo by David Hopley)

Who’s coming to our 16th Anniversary Brunch at Spaghettini?

Smooth Jazz News' 15th Anniversary Brunch & Jam Session at Spaghettini Seal Beach in 2015 (Photo by David Hopley)

Smooth Jazz News’ 15th Anniversary Brunch & Jam Session at Spaghettini Seal Beach in 2015 (Photo by David Hopley)

Are you wondering who the surprise guest artists will be at our 16th Annual Anniversary Sunday Jazz Brunch & Jam Sessions at Spaghettini in Seal Beach, CA?

Special guests at the 2015 Smooth Jazz News Anniversary Brunch & Jam Session: Charlotte White, Robin Pao, Keiko Matsui, Art Good, Craig Collier, Peter White, Al & Sandy Williams (photo by David Hopley)

Special guests at the 2015 Smooth Jazz News Anniversary Brunch & Jam Session: Charlotte White, Robin Pao, Keiko Matsui, Art Good, Craig Collier, Peter White, Al & Sandy Williams (photo by David Hopley)

Many of their names can’t be revealed until they arrive on Jan. 24 and Feb. 21.

DamonReel, Euge Groove, Art Good, Keiko Matsui, Al Williams, Peter White, Craig Collier, Billy Mondragon & Eric Mondragon on the patio of Spaghettini Seal Beach during the 2015 Smooth Jazz News Anniversary Brunch & Jam Session (photo by David Hopley)

DamonReel, Euge Groove, Art Good, Keiko Matsui, Al Williams, Peter White, Craig Collier, Billy Mondragon & Eric Mondragon on the patio of Spaghettini Seal Beach during the 2015 Smooth Jazz News Anniversary Brunch & Jam Session (photo by David Hopley)

However, we can announce that Barbados-born saxophonist Elan Trotman and Canadian trumpeter Gabriel Mark Hasselbach are scheduled to join the jam session.

Canadian-based trumpeter Gabriel Mark Hasselbach

Canadian-based trumpeter Gabriel Mark Hasselbach

Elan Trotman joining the jam session during the 2015 Smooth Jazz News Anniversary Brunch at Spaghettini Seal Beach (photo by David Hopley)

Elan Trotman joining the jam session during the 2015 Smooth Jazz News Anniversary Brunch at Spaghettini Seal Beach (photo by David Hopley)

We will also post hints and more announcements on this blog throughout the week.

What we can say, however, is that there will be the same mouth-watering cuisine with both a buffet and order-off-the-menu entree (including Parmesan-crusted Chilean sea bass, Louisiana catfish, buttermilk fried chicken, waffles and wings, salmon picatta, traditional breakfast favorites and more)! Our favorite party band, DW3, will be onstage filling the lounge and restaurant with the sounds of Old School R&B on Jan. 24, and vocalist Derek Bordeaux and his group will entertain us on Feb. 21.

Sunday Brunch Buffet at Spaghettini in Seal Beach, CA (photo by David Hopley)

Sunday Brunch Buffet at Spaghettini in Seal Beach, CA (photo by David Hopley)

We hope you can celebrate with us at Spaghettini on Sunday, Jan. 24 or Feb. 21! And, because the NAMM Show is happening Jan. 21-24 at the nearby Anaheim Convention Center, there will be some other fun shows happening at Spaghettini throughout that weekend.

Some of the guest artists who attended the 2015 Smooth Jazz News Anniversary Brunch & Jam Session at Spaghettini Seal Beach (photo by David Hopley)

Some of the guest artists who attended the 2015 Smooth Jazz News Anniversary Brunch & Jam Session at Spaghettini Seal Beach (photo by Ambrosevents.com)

For reservations to the Smooth Jazz News 16th Anniversary Brunch & Jam Session at Spaghettini Fine Dining & Entertainment, at 3005 Old Ranch Pkwy., Seal Beach, California, please call 562-596-2199, or visit www.spaghettinisb.com for more information. To access information about Smooth Jazz News the magazine, visit www.smoothjazznews.com.