Author Archives: Melanie

Stevie Wonder sits in with Brian Culbertson at Long Beach concert!

(left to right) Brian Culbertson, Stevie Wonder, Rodney James Jr., (and, in back) Marqueal Jordan and Michael Stever (Photo by Rhonda Kilpatrick)

(left to right) Brian Culbertson, Stevie Wonder, Rodney Jones Jr., (and, in back) Marqueal Jordan and Michael Stever at the Terrace Theater in Long Beach, California, on Valentine’s Day (Photo by Rhonda Kilpatrick)

By Melanie Maxwell

When Stevie Wonder walked on stage during Brian Culbertson‘s show last night, he thought the crowd had burst into ecstatic applause because they were diggin’ the way he was wailing on the keyboards. It was Valentine’s Day after all. And, Brian was the headliner at Rainbow Promotions’ three-act concert at the Terrace Theater in Long Beach, CA, which also included saxophonist Jeanette Harris and Will Downing. But when he lifted his head up and opened his eyes, Stevie was standing next to him playing harmonica. Startled and shocked, Brian bent over slightly, stepped away from his keyboards, cupped his face in his hands, shook his head, then stared at Stevie for a moment.

Brian Culbertson & his bad react to a surprise appearance by Stevie Wonder during his performance at Rainbow Promotions' Valentine's Day concert at the Long Beach Terrace Theater on Feb. 14, 2015 (Photo by  Ambrosevents.com/Ellis Moore Photography)

Brian Culbertson & his band react to a surprise appearance by Stevie Wonder during their performance at Rainbow Promotions’ Valentine’s Day concert at the Long Beach Terrace Theater on Feb. 14, 2015 (Photo by Ambrosevents.com/Ellis Moore Photography)

After composing himself from this surprise, he walked back, placed his fingers on those ivories and jammed with the 25-time GRAMMY winner. His band––comprising Marqueal Jordan, Chris Miskel, Eddie Miller, Michael Stever, Rodney Jones Jr. and a guitarist––jumped around the stage with expressions of joy and disbelief, never missing a beat.

Brian Culbertson & his band performing at Rainbow Promotions' Valentine's Day concert at the Long Beach Terrace Theater on Feb. 14, 2015 (Photo by  Ambrosevents.com/Ellis Moore Photography)

Brian Culbertson, Marqueal Jordan, Michael Stever & Rodney Jones Jr. performing at Rainbow Promotions’ Valentine’s Day concert at the Long Beach Terrace Theater on Feb. 14, 2015 (Photos by Ambrosevents.com/Ellis Moore Photography)

There had been rumblings all night that Stevie was in the house, but no confirmed sightings until halfway through Brian’s stellar performance. Stevie was certainly feeling the vibe of that signature Culbertson funky flair, which exuded the energy and showmanship of a major rock concert. So, he emerged from backstage where he was enjoying the show, and joined the spiky-haired blond boy from Chicago.

Brian Culbertson & Stevie Wonder performing together spontaneously

Brian Culbertson & Stevie Wonder performing together spontaneously on Valentine’s Day in Long Beach, California (Photo by Ambrosevents.com/Ellis Moore Photography)

Happy Valentine’s Day indeed…Amazing!

Brian Culbertson & Stevie Wonder performing an impromptu song at Rainbow Promotions' Valentine's Day concert at the Long Beach Terrace Theater on Feb. 14, 2015 (Photo by Ambrosevents.com/Ellis Moore Photography)

Brian Culbertson & Stevie Wonder performing an impromptu song at Rainbow Promotions’ Valentine’s Day concert at the Long Beach Terrace Theater on Feb. 14, 2015 (Photos by Ambrosevents.com/Ellis Moore Photography)

Brian Culbertson, who is celebrating his 20th year as a smooth jazz star, is also hosting his 4th annual Napa Valley Jazz Getaway, June 10-14. The lineup includes Al Jarreau, Chaka Khan, Boney James, Peter White, Mindi Abair, Eric Darius, Spyro Gyra, Kenny Lattimore, Maysa, DW3, Eric Marienthal, comedian Alonzo Bodden & more! For more information on this 5-day, luxury wine & jazz festival held at Jamieson Ranch Vineyards and various venues throughout the Northern California Wine Country, visit www.jazzgetaway.com.

Brian Culbertson & Stevie Wonder backstage at the Long Beach Terrace Theater on Feb. 14, 2015 (Photo by Ambrosevents.com/Ellis Moore Photography)

Brian Culbertson & Stevie Wonder backstage at the Long Beach Terrace Theater on Feb. 14, 2015 (Photos by Ambrosevents.com/Ellis Moore Photography)

For more information on Rainbow Promotions‘ events, including the Long Beach Jazz Festival, visit www.rainbowpromotions.com.

Kim Benoit (producer of Rainbow Promotions' Valentine's Concert) backstage at the Long Beach Terrace Theater with Stevie Wonder, Will Downing & 94.7 The WAVE on-air personality Pat Prescott on Feb. 14, 2015 (Photo by Ambrosevents.com/Ellis Moore Photography)

Kim Benoit (producer of Rainbow Promotions’ Valentine’s Concert) backstage at the Long Beach Terrace Theater with Stevie Wonder, Will Downing & 94.7 The WAVE on-air personality Pat Prescott (Photo by Ambrosevents.com/Ellis Moore Photography)

Stevie Wonder, Brian Culbertson, Al Williams (Rainbow Promotions founder) & Will Downing backstage at the Long Beach Terrace Theater on Feb. 14, 2015 (Photo by Ambrosevents.com/Ellis Moore Photography)

Stevie Wonder, Brian Culbertson, Al Williams (Rainbow Promotions founder) & Will Downing backstage at the Long Beach Terrace Theater on Feb. 14, 2015 (Photos by Ambrosevents.com/Ellis Moore Photography)

Also, if you attended this concert, please post a comment below about your experience there. We’d love to hear from you!

Stevie Wonder, Luke Pierce & Brian Culbertson backstage at the Terrace Theater in Long Beach, CA, on Valentine's Day 2015

Stevie Wonder, Luke Pierce & Brian Culbertson backstage after the show at the Terrace Theater in Long Beach, California, on Valentine’s Day 2015

Desert Lexus Jazz kicks off Southern California season May 2!

Desert Lexus Jazz 2014 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden

Desert Lexus Jazz 2014 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden

By Melanie Maxwell

Splashes of art, food and specialty beverages will accompany great music at Desert Lexus Jazz on May 2. Tower of Power is scheduled to headline this 16th annual event in the shaded performance pavilion at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Lisa Fischer, and her Caribbean-inspired band Grand Baton, is also on the lineup.

Tower of Power scheduled to headline the 16th annual Desert Lexus Jazz on May 2

Tower of Power scheduled to headline the 16th annual Desert Lexus Jazz on May 2

Jazz fans most likely know the GRAMMY-winning vocalist from her awe-inspiring performances with Chris Botti. However, her impressive resume also includes touring and recording with the Rolling Stones, Tina Turner, Chaka Khan, George Benson and more. She is also a recipient of the 2015 Best Music Film GRAMMY for “20 Feet from Stardom.”

Desert Lexus Jazz patrons perusing and purchasing art and CDs

Desert Lexus Jazz patrons perusing and purchasing art and CDs

Visual arts enthusiasts will be thrilled to hear that sculptors Karen and Tony Barone will return to the 2,000-seat venue. The acclaimed artists’ iconic sculptures of the animal kingdom can be seen at various public sites throughout the Coachella Valley. In their ongoing pursuit of paying homage to these magnificent creatures, they created two elegant 6-foot-8-inch Afghans: “Master Krisel” in radiant pink, and “Master Cody,” in a dazzling turquoise. Naming these pieces after Mid-Century Modern architects, the Barones tip their hat to the powerful influence these modernist masters have had on the lifestyle of Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley for more than half a century.

Desert Lexus Jazz 2014 patrons enjoying food and art at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden

Desert Lexus Jazz 2014 patrons enjoying food and art at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden

“We are finalizing details with a couple of additional artists (painters who specialize in music) to display their works,” said Jim “Fitz” Fitzgerald, co-founder of Wendy Jayne Productions, Inc., co-presenter of this event with the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. “Desert Lexus will have cars on display. And, other surprises will be announced shortly,” added Fitz, who is also morning personality/program director for Palm Springs-based radio station 102.3 KJJZ.

Desert Lexus Jazz patrons arrive early for an evening of jazz and art

Desert Lexus Jazz patrons arrive early for an evening of jazz and art

Festival patrons can also feast on culinary creations. “We will have three concession outlets open: Sear, Satay and Kabob, along with food trucks, craft beer and wine,” Fitz said.

Desert Lexus Jazz patrons enjoy pre-concert dining at onsite restaurants at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden

Desert Lexus Jazz patrons enjoy pre-concert dining at onsite restaurants at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden

Gates open at 5 p.m. Lisa Fischer and Grand Baton open the concert at 7 p.m., followed by the legendary Tower of Power at 8:30 p.m. An added bonus…free, onsite parking available to festivalgoers!

Performance Pavilion at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden during the 2014 Desert Lexus Jazz festival

Performance Pavilion at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden during the 2014 Desert Lexus Jazz festival

The 16th Annual Desert Lexus Jazz festival is scheduled for Saturday, May 2, at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, Performance Pavilion, 78-200 Miles Ave., Indian Wells, California. For tickets and information, visit www.iwtg.net/Desert-Lexus-Jazz or call 800-999-1585.

GRAMMY award-winning vocalist Lisa Fischer (Photo by Djeneba Aduayom)

GRAMMY award-winning vocalist Lisa Fischer (Photo by Djeneba Aduayom)

 

Partying with Euge, Peter White & Keiko!

Brunchgoers checking out Smooth Jazz News at Spaghettini in Seal Beach (Photo by David Hopley)

Brunchgoers checking out Smooth Jazz News at Spaghettini in Seal Beach (Photo by David Hopley)

By Melanie Maxwell

What would a Smooth Jazz News anniversary party be without a few genre stars celebrating with us? Thankfully, we didn’t have to find out.

Spaghettini brunchgoers dancing in the lounge during the Smooth Jazz News 15th Anniversary celebration on Feb. 8, 2015 (Photo by David Hopley)

Spaghettini brunchgoers dancing in the lounge during the Smooth Jazz News 15th Anniversary celebration on Feb. 8, 2015 (Photo by David Hopley)

Peter White, Euge Groove and Keiko Matsui joined us on Feb. 8 for the last of two brunch parties commemorating our 15th year of publication. And, DW3 was onstage in the lounge for the festivities at Spaghettini Fine Dining & Entertainment in Seal Beach, California.

Euge Groove and his wife Bane at Spaghettini during Smooth Jazz News' 15th anniversary brunch celebration on Feb. 8, 2015 (Photo by David Hopley)

Euge Groove and his wife Bane at Spaghettini during Smooth Jazz News’ 15th anniversary brunch celebration on Feb. 8, 2015 (Photo by David Hopley)

Between trips to the buffet, these gracious guest artists (who remained a secret until they arrived) enjoyed a day of camaraderie with their peers, mingling with fans and nice bonding moments with festival promoters. Al Williams of Rainbow Promotions (Long Beach Jazz Festival and the upcoming Valentine’s Concert featuring Brian Culbertson & more) attended with his wife Sandy. Evette Benjamin from the City of Gardena was certainly getting her groove on, or maybe she was checking out headliners for the 2015 Gardena Jazz Festival or Food, Wine & Cigar Festival.

Evette Benjamin (right) with her friends Felicia & Yvette at the Smooth Jazz News anniversary celebration on Feb. 8, 2015 (Photo by David Hopley)

Evette Benjamin (right) with her friends Felicia & Yvette at the Smooth Jazz News anniversary celebration on Feb. 8, 2015 (Photo by David Hopley)

Candice Elliot (daughter of Camella and Richard Elliot) represented her musical family, who could not attend due to flight delays. And, legendary radio personality and Catalina Island JazzTrax Festival producer Art Good enjoyed socializing with our group while his friend Keiko was interviewed by Bill Dudley during a live broadcast on 94.7 The WAVE.

Keiko Matsui with Art Good; Keiko during on-air interview with Bill Dudley/94.7 The WAVE (Photo by David Hopley)

Keiko Matsui with Art Good; Keiko during on-air interview with Bill Dudley/94.7 The WAVE (Photo by David Hopley)

And, it didn’t take long before Peter grabbed his guitar and joined DW3 onstage. Soon, Euge was blasting away on his sax, and Eric Mondragon (DW3 keyboardist/vocalist) was relinquishing his seat at the keyboards to Keiko. The jam was on, and, of course, dancing was the audience’s response!

Candice Elliot with her friends Alex Trejo & Rachel Hamer at Smooth Jazz News' 15th anniversary celebration on Feb. 8 (Photo by David Hopley)

Candice Elliot with her friends Alex Trejo & Rachel Hamer at Smooth Jazz News’ 15th anniversary celebration on Feb. 8 (Photo by David Hopley)

Euge Groove, Art Good, Keiko Matsui, Al Williams & Peter White at Spaghettini (Photo by David Hopley)

Euge Groove, Art Good, Keiko Matsui, Al Williams & Peter White at Spaghettini (Photo by David Hopley)

DW3 performing in the lounge at Spaghettini Seal Beach (Photo by David Hopley)

DW3 performing in the lounge at Spaghettini Seal Beach (Photo by David Hopley)

Please check out the photos from this festival event.

Charlotte White, Robin Pao, Keiko Matsui, Art Good, Craig Collier, Peter White, Al Williams & Sandy Williams (Photo by David Hopley)

Charlotte White, Robin Pao, Keiko Matsui, Art Good, Craig Collier, Peter White, Al Williams & Sandy Williams (Photo by David Hopley)

This was such a fun and heart-warming way to celebrate our magazine and the exciting smooth jazz lifestyle. Thank you to everyone who made this occasion so special for us. We’re looking forward to celebrating 16 years in 2016!

Keiko Matsui & Peter White sitting in with DW3 during the Smooth Jazz News 15th anniversary brunch at Spaghettini on Feb. 8, 2015 (Photo by David Hopley)

Keiko Matsui & Peter White sitting in with DW3 during the Smooth Jazz News 15th anniversary brunch at Spaghettini on Feb. 8, 2015 (Photo by David Hopley)

DamonReel, Euge Groove, Art Good, Keiko Matsui, Al Williams, Peter White, Craig Collier, Billy Mondragon & Eric Mondragon outside of Spaghettini Seal Beach (Photo by David Hopley)

DamonReel, Euge Groove, Art Good, Keiko Matsui, Al Williams, Peter White, Craig Collier, Billy Mondragon & Eric Mondragon outside of Spaghettini Seal Beach (Photo by David Hopley)

For more information about Smooth Jazz News, visit www.smoothjazznews.com. To sign up for contests and announcements about concerts, festivals and new CDs, please click here http://smoothjazznews.com/join-our-mailing-list/. For more information on Spaghettini Fine Dining & Entertainment, visit www.spaghettini.com.

Keiko Matsui, Peter White & Euge Groove jammin' with DW3 at Spaghettini (Photo by David Hopley)

Keiko Matsui, Peter White & Euge Groove jammin’ with DW3 at Spaghettini (Photo by David Hopley)

DW3 members Eric Mondragon & DamonReel with a friend in the lounge at Spaghettini (Photo by David Hopley)

DW3 members Eric Mondragon & DamonReel with a friend in the lounge at Spaghettini (Photo by David Hopley)

Peter White with his daughter Charlotte & wife Robin at Spaghettini (Photo by David Hopley)

Peter White with his daughter Charlotte & wife Robin at Spaghettini (Photo by David Hopley)

Terri Normann & Janis St. Marie at Spaghettini Seal Beach during the Smooth Jazz News 15th anniversary brunch party (Photo by David Hopley)

Terri Normann & Janis St. Marie at Spaghettini Seal Beach during the Smooth Jazz News 15th anniversary brunch party (Photo by David Hopley)

Yvette reading the print version of Smooth Jazz News, while Felicia Pennington checks out the new website design on her cell phone & Evette Benjamin uses the interactive options on the blog from her iPad (Photo by David Hopley)

Yvette reading the print version of Smooth Jazz News, while Felicia Pennington checks out the new website design on her iPad & Evette Benjamin uses the interactive options on the blog from her cell phone (Photo by David Hopley)

Peter  White greets Al Williams & his wife Sandy as they arrive at Spaghettini for the Smooth Jazz News 15th anniversary brunch celebration (Photo by David Hopley)

Peter White greets Al Williams & his wife Sandy as they arrive at Spaghettini for the Smooth Jazz News 15th anniversary brunch celebration (Photo by David Hopley)

Peter White & DamonReel performing at Spaghettini Seal Beach (Photo by David Hopley)

Peter White & DamonReel performing at Spaghettini Seal Beach (Photo by David Hopley)

Kris & Pete Glaeser at Spaghettini (Photo by David Hopley)

Kris & Pete Glaeser at Spaghettini (Photo by David Hopley)

Gina Giblin (Smooth Jazz News graphic designer) with her husband Shane, and daughter Siena at Spaghettini on Feb. 8, 2015 (Photo by David Hopley)

Gina Giblin (Smooth Jazz News graphic designer) with her husband Shane, and daughter Siena at Spaghettini on Feb. 8, 2015 (Photo by David Hopley)

Party with us tomorrow, Feb. 8, at Spaghettini!

Willie Payne & Lillian Perry dancing to the old-school soul of DW3 at Spaghettini (Photo by David Hopley)

Willie Payne & Lillian Perry dancing to the old-school soul of DW3 at Spaghettini on Jan. 25, 2015 (Photo by David Hopley)

Joey Sommerville, Rayford Griffin, Eric Mondgragon, DamonReel, Gregg Karukas, Dirk K, Jarez, saxophonist and two other DW3 band members, Billy Mondragon & Sekou bunch outside of Spaghettini (Photo by Ambrosevents)

Joey Sommerville, Rayford Griffin, Eric Mondgragon, DamonReel, Gregg Karukas, Dirk K, Jarez, saxophonist and two other DW3 band members, Billy Mondragon & Sekou Bunch outside of Spaghettini on Jan. 25, 2015 (Photo by Ambrosevents)

By Melanie Maxwell

We had such a great time during our 15th Anniversary brunch party at Spaghettini last month that we’re doing it again tomorrow, Feb. 8!

Brunch patrons partying in the lounge at Spaghettini during the Smooth Jazz News 15th Anniversary celebration on Jan. 25, 2015 (Photo by David Hopley)

Brunch patrons partying in the lounge at Spaghettini during the Smooth Jazz News 15th Anniversary celebration on Jan. 25, 2015 (Photo by David Hopley)

Phil & Lillian Perry; Kathy Payne takes a photo of her mother with Phil & Lillian Perry; Lillian Perry chats with Steve Chapman (Photo by David Hopley)

Phil & Lillian Perry; Kathy Payne takes a photo of her mother with Phil & Lillian Perry; Lillian Perry chats with Steve Chapman on Jan. 25, 2015 (Photo by David Hopley)

It will be the same great food (a buffet AND order-off-the-menu entree!), same soulful band (DW3) and same fabulous location (Spaghettini in Seal Beach, California). But, we’ll have an entirely new cast of special guest artists.

Phil Perry, Sekou Bunch, Rayford Griffin, DamonReel, Joey Sommerville, Eric Mondragon & DW3 band members outside on the patio at Spaghettini in Seal Beach (Photo by David Hopley)

Phil Perry, Sekou Bunch, Rayford Griffin, DamonReel, Joey Sommerville, Eric Mondragon & DW3 band members outside on the patio at Spaghettini in Seal Beach on Jan. 25, 2015 (Photo by David Hopley)

Dirk K; Fran & Dean; Kathy & her mother Joan Giddens (Photo by David Hopley)

Dirk K; Fran & Dean; Kathy Payne & her mother Joan Giddens on Jan. 25, 2015(Photo by David Hopley)

Eric Mondragon & Willie Payne (Payne Pest Management) celebrating Smooth Jazz News' 15th anniversary at Spaghettini  (Photo by Ambrosevents.com/wwww.ellismoore.com)

Eric Mondragon & Willie Payne (Payne Pest Management) celebrating Smooth Jazz News‘ 15th anniversary at Spaghettini on Jan. 25, 2015 (Photo by Ambrosevents.com /wwww.ellismoore.com)

Last month our special guests included vocalist Phil Perry, keyboardist Gregg Karukas, Barbados-born saxophonist Elan Trotman, trumpeter Joey Sommerville, jazz harpist Mariea Antoinette, guitarist Dirk K and saxophonist Jarez Posey. As you can imagine, there was a lot of dancing, screaming and applause, much of which was captured on cell phones, iPads and digital cameras.

Willie Payne & Gregg Karukas at Smooth Jazz News' 15th anniversary brunch party (Photo by Ambrosevents.com/wwww.ellismoore.com)

Willie Payne & Gregg Karukas at Smooth Jazz News‘ 15th anniversary brunch party on Jan. 25, 2015 (Photo by Ambrosevents.com /wwww.ellismoore.com)

DamonReel, Gregg Karukas, Dirk K & Jarez taking a break outside of Spaghettini (Photo by David Hopley)

DamonReel, Gregg Karukas, Dirk K & Jarez taking a break outside of Spaghettini on Jan. 25, 2015 (Photo by David Hopley)

Lillian Perry snaps a photo of Phil Perry & Joey Sommerville at Spaghettini (Photo by David Hopley)

Lillian Perry snaps a photo of Phil Perry & Joey Sommerville at Spaghettini on Jan. 25, 2015 (Photo by David Hopley)

The names of our guest artists can’t be revealed until they arrive on Sunday. However, I can tell you that so far, the A-list smooth jazz stars include a guitarist, a saxophonist and a keyboardist (who has never attend these brunches before). And, who knows who else may stop by to sit in with the band and mingle with their fans?

Joey Sommerville, Rayford Griffin, "Q", Gregg Karukas, Dirk K & Jarez outside of Spaghettini in Seal Beach (Photo by Ambrosevents.com/wwww.ellismoore.com)

Joey Sommerville, Rayford Griffin, “Q”, Gregg Karukas, Dirk K & Jarez outside of Spaghettini in Seal Beach on Jan. 25, 2015 (Photo by Ambrosevents.com/wwww.ellismoore.com)

I hope you can celebrate with us at Spaghettini on Sunday, Feb. 8!

If you attended our brunch party on Jan. 25, please let us know what the experience was like for you. Also, if plan to celebrate with us on Sunday, Feb. 8, please let us know as well. Simply post a comment below the photos at the bottom of the page. We’d love to hear from you!

Phil Perry, Kim Benoit and her husband Ozzie (Rainbow Promotions) & Lillian Perry at Smooth Jazz News 15th anniversary brunch party (Photo by David Hopley)

Phil Perry, Kim Benoit and her husband Ozzie (Rainbow Promotions) & Lillian Perry at Smooth Jazz News 15th anniversary brunch party on Jan 25, 2015 (Photo by David Hopley)

For reservations to Spaghettini’s Legendary Brunch, happening from 10 a.m. till 2 p.m. at 3005 Old Ranch Pkwy., in Seal Beach, please call 562-596-2199, or visit www.spaghettinisb.com for more information.

Shannon Moore (Mack Avenue Records) & jazz harpist Mariea Antoinette at the Smooth Jazz News 15th anniversary brunch party at Spaghettini (Photo by David Hopley)

Shannon Moore (Mack Avenue Records) & jazz harpist Mariea Antoinette at the Smooth Jazz News 15th anniversary brunch party at Spaghettini on Jan. 25, 2015 (Photo by David Hopley)

Cary Hardwick (Spaghettini co-owner) on air with Bill Dudley during 94.7 The WAVE's live broadcast from Spaghettini in Seal Beach, CA (Photo by David Hopley)

Cary Hardwick (Spaghettini co-owner) on air with Bill Dudley during 94.7 The WAVE’s live broadcast from Spaghettini in Seal Beach, CA, on Jan. 25, 2015 (Photo by David Hopley)

Elan Trotman sitting in with DW3 at Spaghettini in Seal Beach, CA, on Jan. 25, 2015 (Photo by David Hopley)

Elan Trotman sitting in with DW3 at Spaghettini in Seal Beach, CA, on Jan. 25, 2015 (Photo by David Hopley)

Joey Sommerville performing at the Smooth Jazz News 15th Anniversary brunch party at Spaghettini in Seal Beach, CA (Photo by Ambrosevents.com/ellismoore.com)

Joey Sommerville performing at the Smooth Jazz News 15th Anniversary brunch party at Spaghettini in Seal Beach, CA, on Jan. 25, 2015 (Photo by Ambrosevents.com /ellismoore.com)

Buffet at Spaghettini's Legendary Sunday Brunch in Seal Beach, CA (Photo by David Hopley)

Buffet at Spaghettini’s Legendary Sunday Brunch in Seal Beach, CA (Photo by David Hopley)

The Bad-Asses of Yamaha kickin’ it at NAMM

Byron "Mr. Talkbox" Chambers & Nathan East jammin' at Yamaha's 2015 Dealer Concert in Anaheim, CA (Photo by David Hopley)

Byron “Mr. Talkbox” Chambers & Nathan East jammin’ at Yamaha’s 2015 Dealer Concert in Anaheim, CA (Photo by David Hopley)

By Melanie Maxwell

I had to be out of my mind to drive from San Diego to Anaheim on a Friday afternoon. Especially during our month-end crunch; the pressure of writing a barrage of last-minute stories within an impossible deadline; the night before the Ocean Institute Jazz Festival Gala in Dana Point; two days before our 15th anniversary brunch celebration at Spaghettini in Seal Beach; and struggling with the logistics of how to also fit in the 7-plus-hour, roundtrip drive to Spaghettini Beverly Hills & the Dave Koz Lounge for the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday.

Jonathan Butler shares his spirit in song at Yamaha's Dealer Concert during the 2015 NAMM Show (Photo by David Hopley)

Jonathan Butler shares his spirit in song at Yamaha’s Dealer Concert during the 2015 NAMM Show (Photo by David Hopley)

But the invitation to Yamaha’s Dealer Concert during the 114th NAMM Show was just too tempting. Nathan East, Jonathan Butler and Bob James, as well as artists I’ve never seen before such as Colbie Caillat, James Blunt, The Piano Guys and Jamie Cullum were scheduled to perform. Plus, there were rumors of a special appearance by Michael McDonald at the show, which was held at a 1,800-seat theater near the Anaheim Convention Center. This truly seemed like a can’t-miss event despite the insane timing of my ridiculous and stressful schedule.

Jamie Cullum performing at Yamaha's 2015 Dealer Concert (Photo by David Hopley)

Jamie Cullum performing at Yamaha’s 2015 Dealer Concert (Photo by David Hopley)

But I rationalized that if I left San Diego at 1 p.m., I could avoid the road-rage-inducing traffic jams and meet photographer David Hopley at Spaghettini by 3. That way, we could relax and have some great food in the lounge first, then take one car to the theater, less than 15 miles away.

Comedian Sinbad opens the Yamaha Dealer Concert in Anaheim, CA, by pretending to play a trumpet (Photo by David Hopley)

Comedian Sinbad opens the Yamaha Dealer Concert in Anaheim, CA, by pretending to play a trumpet (Photo by David Hopley)

And, man-oh-man, am I happy that I jumped through all those hoops to experience that spectacular evening of music!

My excitement registered off the Richter scale when I entered the theater and saw a 25-piece orchestra and three background vocalists. Nothing thrills me more than hearing highly skilled musicians playing real instruments live with great singers. There was no auto-tune or pre-recorded programming here: Just awesome talent, top-notch entertainment and a lot of laughter for this audience comprised mainly of dealers of Yamaha instruments and equipment.

James Blunt (Photo by David Hopley)

James Blunt
(Photo by David Hopley)

Sinbad, the emcee, opened the show with a trumpet in his hand. Then, without a word, the comedian held the mouthpiece to his lips, placed his fingertips on the valves and pointed the bell toward the microphone. When it didn’t emit a sound, he blamed it on a suspicious “sticky-valve” conspiracy. And, after special guest Tom Scott hit the stage, Sinbad joked that the valves on his saxophone mysteriously worked just fine.

Colbie Caillat performing at Yamaha's Dealer Concert in Anaheim, CA, on Jan. 23, 1015 (Photo by David Hopley)

Colbie Caillat performing at Yamaha’s Dealer Concert in Anaheim, CA, on Jan. 23, 1015 (Photo by David Hopley)

Nathan was up next, featuring Byron “Mr. Talkbox” Chambers. And, although Michael McDonald never showed up, David Paich and Steve Porcaro from the band Toto made a surprise appearance. They played a few of their biggest hits, including “Africa,” accompanied by Nathan and the orchestra.

The Piano Guys featuring (left to right) Jon Schmidt, Paul Anderson, Al Van Der Beek & Steven Sharp Nelson (Photo by David Hopley)

The Piano Guys featuring (left to right) Jon Schmidt, Paul Anderson, Al Van Der Beek & Steven Sharp Nelson (Photo by David Hopley)

After a quick set change, Colbie Caillat was standing five feet away from our front-row center seats. With a guitar and mic, the singer-songwriter showed the audience what a naturally sweet and pure voice sounds like. She went effortlessly from guitar to piano (at times accompanied by a male guitarist) as she sang some of her hits, including “Bubbly,” “Brighter than the Sun” and “Try.”

Mindia Abair at She Rocks Awards in Anaheim, Jan. 23, 2015 (Photo by anjani-lynn white)

Mindi Abair at She Rocks Awards in Anaheim, Jan. 23, 2015 (Photo by anjani-lynn white)

Chris Gero, Yamaha founder and vice president, was on stage for a few moments to thank the dealers and Yamaha’s artist endorsers, and to also introduce Bob James. Later, it was announced that a collaboration between Nathan and the 75-year-old piano legend was being considered for release on the Yamaha record label.

Mindi Abair  at the 2015 She Rocks Awards in Anaheim, California (Photo by anjani-lynn white)

Mindi Abair at the 2015 She Rocks Awards in Anaheim, California
(Photo by anjani-lynn white)

After several lovely instrumental tunes from Bob (including “Angela” the theme from the 1970’s sitcom “Taxi”), it was time for more vocals. James Blunt was just the guy to bring them. The multi-award-winning Brit went from playing piano to guitar, all the while singing his seemingly broken heart away with a raw, searing, emotional and aching style. He delivered the lyrics and music in such a personal way, his angst haunted me on the entire drive back home to San Diego. I can see why the pop star, who catapulted to international fame in 2005 with his hit song “You’re Beautiful,” has sold more than 17 million albums and 20 million singles.

Nathan East, GRAMMY-nominee for his self-titled debut album on the Yamaha Record Label (Photo by David Hopley)

Nathan East, GRAMMY-nominee for his self-titled debut album on the Yamaha Record Label (Photo by David Hopley)

But for me, a die-hard smooth jazz fan, one of many highlights was the performance by South African guitarist-vocalist Jonathan Butler. Accompanied by Greg Vail on sax, he earned multiple standing ovations.

Jonathan Butler (Photo by David Hopley)

Jonathan Butler
(Photo by David Hopley)

If I thought seeing Colbie Caillat and James Blunt for the first time was a treat, I needed to fasten my seat belt (or “tighten up your depends!” as Sinbad instructed the audience) when Jamie Cullum began his fantastic vocal and piano performance. The adorable, 30-something, GRAMMY-winning, English jazz-pop star reminded me of an exciting combination of Brian Culbertson friskiness, Dave Koz charm, and the Road Runner’s energy mixed with an extraordinary voice and piano skills that would make Beethoven jealous. As his show began to sizzle, he stood up, loosened his tie, eventually jettisoned his coat and burst into full showman mode as he bobbed his head full of black spiked hair in rhythm to the music.

Tom Scott & Sinbad (Photo by David Hopley)

Tom Scott & Sinbad (Photo by David Hopley)

What did he do for an encore? He brought Bob James back onstage for a session of dueling pianos where the blend of contemporary spunk and legendary mastery was spectacular.

Steve Porcaro from the band Toto (Photo by David Hopley)

Steve Porcaro from the band Toto (Photo by David Hopley)

How do you beat that? With Nathan East’s encore of Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky,” which closed out the show with a dancing-ovation.

Packed theater at the Yamaha Dealer Concert in Anaheim, CA, during the 2015 NAMM Show (Photo by David Hopley)

Packed theater at the Yamaha Dealer Concert in Anaheim, CA, during the 2015 NAMM Show (Photo by David Hopley)

For more information on the Yamaha Entertainment Group of America, visit www.yamahaentertainmentgroup.com.

Nathan East with 25-piece orchestra at the Yamaha Dealer Concert in Anaheim, CA (Photo by David Hopley)

Nathan East with 25-piece orchestra at the Yamaha Dealer Concert in Anaheim, CA (Photo by David Hopley)

However, this wasn’t the only showcase of Yamaha’s bad-asses that night. While we were immersed in this musical magic, GRAMMY nominee and Yamaha-endorsed saxophonist Mindi Abair was across the street at the Anaheim Hilton Hotel receiving a She Rocks Awards for “Mad Skills.”

Mindi Abair performing with singer-songwriter-guitarist Orianthi at the 2015 She Rocks Awards (Photo by anjani-lynn white)

Mindi Abair performing with singer-songwriter-guitarist Orianthi at the 2015 She Rocks Awards
(Photo by anjani-lynn white)

Sponsored by the Women’s International Music Network, this third annual event honored 10 incredible women in music, including Mindi, Colbie and the Bangles. Music-biz professionals Craigie Zildjian, Paula Salvatore, Gayle Beacock, Berklee College’s Debbie Cavalier, marketing executive Amani Duncan, journalist Katie Kailus and Robo Records president Rob Christie (the first male She Rocks recipient) were also presented with trophies.

For more information on this organization, visit www.thewimn.com/events/2015-rocks-awards/. Also, check out the Los Angeles Times‘ coverage on the She Rocks Awards at www.latimes.com/entertainment/music/posts/la-et-ms-namm-she-rocks-awards-20150124-story.html)

Jamie Cullum (Photo by David Hopley)

Jamie Cullum
(Photo by David Hopley)

James Blunt (Photo by David Hopley)

James Blunt
(Photo by David Hopley)

Colbie Caillat performing at the Yamaha Dealer Concert during the 2015 NAMM Show in Anaheim, CA (photo by David Hopley)

Colbie Caillat performing at the Yamaha Dealer Concert during the 2015 NAMM Show in Anaheim, CA (photo by David Hopley)

Steven Sharp Nelson of The Piano Guys (Photo by David Hopley)

Steven Sharp Nelson of The Piano Guys (Photo by David Hopley)

Al Van Der Beek, Jon Schmidt & Paul Anderson of The Piano Guys (Photo by David Hopley)

Al Van Der Beek, Jon Schmidt & Paul Anderson of The Piano Guys (Photo by David Hopley)

Chris Gero, Yamaha founder and vice president, welcomes the audience of mostly musical instrument dealers at Yamaha's 2015 Dealer Concert (Photo by David Hopley)

Chris Gero, Yamaha founder and vice president, welcomes the audience of mostly musical instrument dealers at Yamaha’s 2015 Dealer Concert (Photo by David Hopley)

Bob James performing at the Yamaha Dealer Concert (Photo by David Hopley)

Bob James performing at the Yamaha Dealer Concert (Photo by David Hopley)

Greg Vail performing with Jonathan Butler at Yamaha's 2015 Dealer Concert (Photo by David Hopley)

Greg Vail performing with Jonathan Butler at Yamaha’s 2015 Dealer Concert (Photo by David Hopley)

Jamie Cullum loosening his tie for his exhilarating performance at Yamaha's Deal Concert during the 2015 NAMM Show (Photo by David Hopley)

Jamie Cullum loosening his tie for his exhilarating performance at Yamaha’s Deal Concert during the 2015 NAMM Show (Photo by David Hopley)

Jamie Cullum sans the coat and tie during his performance at Yamaha's Deal Concert during the 2015 NAMM Show (Photo by David Hopley)

Jamie Cullum sans the coat and tie during his performance at Yamaha’s Deal Concert during the 2015 NAMM Show (Photo by David Hopley)

David Paich from the band Toto (Photo by David Hopley)

David Paich from the band Toto (Photo by David Hopley)

Colbie Caillat (photo by David Hopley)

Colbie Caillat (photo by David Hopley)

Background singers at Yamaha's Dealer Concert on Jan. 23, 2015 (Photo by David Hopley)

Background singers at Yamaha’s Dealer Concert on Jan. 23, 2015 (Photo by David Hopley)

The NAMM Show starts today in Anaheim, CA!

OF SPECIAL INTEREST TO MUSICIANS, ARTISTS AND MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT PROFESSIONALS

2015 NAMM Show at the Anaheim Convention Center (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for NAMM)

2015 NAMM Show at the Anaheim Convention Center (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for NAMM)

By Melanie Maxwell

Anaheim, California, will be filled with some of the music industry’s biggest stars this weekend, but it won’t necessarily be for a concert. And, unfortunately, admission is not open to the general public. Nearly 100,000 music industry leaders, musicians and artists will be attending, presenting or performing at NAMM, the loudest trade show on the planet, Jan. 22-25, at the Anaheim Convention Center. Presented by the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM), this annual industry-only, global music-product trade show features more than 5,000 manufacturers of musical instruments, products and technology brands, including guitars, drums, pianos, synthesizers, band and orchestra instruments, pro audio equipment, DJ gear and more.

George Clinton at the 2015 National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) show media preview day at the Anaheim Convention Center on January 21, 2015 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for NAMM)

George Clinton at the 2015 National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) show media preview day at the Anaheim Convention Center on January 21, 2015 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for NAMM)

Most likely, many smooth jazz artists will be there to not only check out the latest innovations, they will also be there to endorse their favorite instruments. Gerald Albright is an advocate of Cannonball Musical Instruments, and has his own signature series line of saxophones, while Mindi Abair and Nathan East are on team Yamaha.

The Disneyland Band officially opened the NAMM show  with special guest conductor Mickey Mouse on the Grand Plaza at the Anaheim Convention Center on Jan. 22, 2015 in Anaheim, California (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for NAMM)

The Disneyland Band officially opened the NAMM show with special guest conductor Mickey Mouse on the Grand Plaza at the Anaheim Convention Center on Jan. 22, 2015 in Anaheim, California (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for NAMM)

For musicians and entertainment professionals, the NAMM show is more popular of a shopping than black Friday is to consumers. Plus, they get to hang out with their peers at interactive demos, artist appearances and educational sessions.

Budding guitarist checking out the goods during the 2015 NAMM show (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for NAMM)

Budding guitarist checking out the goods during the 2015 NAMM show (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for NAMM)

This morning, Yamaha presented the NAMM grand opening performance featuring “The World Famous Disneyland Band” with Mickey Mouse as the bandleader. This afternoon, Trombone Shorty is participating in “Turnaround Arts: Celebrating the Success of Arts Education in School Reform,” then performs later with his band Orleans Avenue. Apple co-founder, Steve “Woz” Wozniak will discuss music and technology with NAMM’s president and CEO Joe Lamond at a Saturday morning breakfast session. And, on Saturday evening, Sinbad and Les Paul honoree Slash will host the 30th annual NAMM TEC Awards.

George Clinton at the 2015 NAMM show media preview day at the Anaheim Convention Center on Jan. 21, in Anaheim, California (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for NAMM)

George Clinton at the 2015 NAMM show media preview day at the Anaheim Convention Center on Jan. 21, in Anaheim, California (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for NAMM)

At night, when the convention doors close, the nearby hotel lobbies are bustling with celebrities, stars and legends, as they pass through on the way to their rooms where they will change for the evening’s festivities. The later it gets, the more colorful the characters get (none of which are from the G-rated Disney cast) as they flood the hotels in varying states of dress, costume, body piercing and tattoos. After-hours is a wild time for sure. But, when it’s all over, the economic impact of this NAMM show is $91.5 million.

Regardless of age, the 2015 NAMM show is a musician's dream destination (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for NAMM)

Regardless of age, the 2015 NAMM show is a musician’s dream destination (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for NAMM)

The NAMM show (which is NOT open to the public) is scheduled for Jan. 22-25, at the Anaheim Convention Center, 800 W. Katella Ave., Anaheim, California. For more information, visit https://www.namm.org/thenammshow/2015/events.

Guitar vendor  at the 2015 NAMM show

Guitar vendor at the 2015 NAMM show (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for NAMM)

Young musician talks "guitars" with NAMM attendees (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for NAMM)

Young musician talks “guitars” with NAMM attendees (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for NAMM)

 

Media Preview Day for the 2015 NAMM show  at the Anaheim Convention Center on Jan. 21, 2015 (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for NAMM)

Media Preview Day for the 2015 NAMM show at the Anaheim Convention Center on Jan. 21, 2015 (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for NAMM)

 

Who will be at Spaghettini for our anniversary party?

Smooth Jazz News at Spaghettini Fine Dining & Entertainment in Seal Beach, CA  (Photo by Pat Benter)

Smooth Jazz News celebrating 14th Anniversary in 2014 at Spaghettini Fine Dining & Entertainment in Seal Beach, CA (Photo by Pat Benter)

By Melanie Maxwell

What special guest artists will perform at Smooth Jazz News‘ 15th anniversary celebration on Jan. 25 and Feb. 8 at Spaghettini in Seal Beach, California? We can’t disclose the names quite yet. But, I can tell you that there will be a singer, saxophonist, keyboardist and trumpeter sitting in with DW3 at our brunch party on Jan. 25.

Peter White sitting in with DW3 at Smooth Jazz News' 14th anniversary celebration at Spaghettini in 2014 (Photo by Pat Benter)

Peter White sitting in with DW3 at Smooth Jazz News‘ 14th anniversary celebration at Spaghettini in 2014 (Photo by Pat Benter)

Will you be there? The lounge is already sold out, but there may be a few tables left in some of the dining rooms. Call 562-596-2199 for reservations at Spaghettini’s Legendary Brunch.

Dave Koz & Rick Braun sitting in with DW3 at Smooth Jazz News' 14th anniversary celebration at Spaghettini in 2014 (Photo by Pat Benter)

Dave Koz & Rick Braun sitting in with DW3 at Smooth Jazz News‘ 14th anniversary celebration at Spaghettini in 2014 (Photo by Pat Benter)

For more information on Spaghettini Fine Dining & Entertainment, located at 3005 Old Ranch Pkwy. in Seal Beach, California, visit www.spaghettininsb.com.

Gregg Karukas performing at Smooth Jazz News' anniversary celebration at Spaghettini in 2012 (Photo by David Hopley)

Gregg Karukas performing at Smooth Jazz News‘ anniversary celebration at Spaghettini in 2012 (Photo by David Hopley)

DW3 performing at Smooth Jazz News' 14th anniversary celebration at Spaghettini in 2014 (Photo by Pat Benter)

Billy Mondragon & DamonReel of DW3 performing at Smooth Jazz News‘ 14th anniversary celebration at Spaghettini in 2014 (Photo by Pat Benter)

Memorial Services for Jeff Golub scheduled

Jeff Golub

Jeff Golub

By Melanie Maxwell

Memorial services for Jeff Golub are scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 8, 1 p.m. EST, at the New York Society for Ethical Culture, 2 W. 64th St., in New York City. Saxophonist Kirk Whalum will officiate.

Jeff, who battled Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP) since 2011, passed away on Jan. 1, 2015. He is survived by his wife Audrey Stafford Golub and their sons Chris and Matthew; his mother Pearl Golub, and brother Pete Golub, of Copley, Ohio; his sister Patti Hippler, brother-in-law Bob Hippler and nephew Jason Hippler, of Massillon, Ohio; sisters and brothers-in-law Joan and Jay Betts, Susan Stafford, Lisa and Steve McCoy and Eleanor Frongillo and their Continue reading

RIP Jeff Golub

Jeff Golub

 April 15, 1955-Jan. 1, 2015

Jeff Golub (Photo by Lori Stoll)

Jeff Golub
(Photo by Lori Stoll)

By Melanie Maxwell

It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Jeff Golub today at 11 a.m. in New York. The beloved guitarist was surrounded by his wife of 18 years, Audrey, and their two sons, Chris, 14, and Matthew, 12, in their Manhattan home.

Jeff Golub and his wife, Audrey (Photo by Lori Stoll)

Jeff Golub and his wife, Audrey
(Photo by Lori Stoll)

Jeff battled Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP), since losing his sight in 2011. However, it wasn’t until last fall that the National Institutes of Health confirmed the diagnosis. PSP is an aggressive, progressively degenerative brain disease for which there is no treatment or cure.

To help the Golub family, a “Friends of Jeff Golub All-Star Benefit Concert” is scheduled for Jan. 21, 8 p.m., at B.B. King’s Blues Club & Grill, 237 W. 42nd St., in New York City. The artists confirmed to perform so far include Rick Braun, Dave Koz, Richard Elliot, Mindi Abair, Kirk Whalum, Chuck Loeb, Christopher Cross, Philippe Saisse, Randy Brecker, Henry Butler, Mark Egan, Bill Evans, Steve Ferrone and more. Additional artists will be announced shortly. To purchase tickets, visit www.marqueeconcerts.com, www.ticketmaster.com, B.B. Kings box office or call 800-745-3000.

Jeff Golub (Photo by Lori Stoll)

Jeff Golub
(Photo by Lori Stoll)

To further assist the Golub family, donations can be made to The Jeff Golub Medical Expenses Fund online at www.jeffgolub.com or by sending a check or money order payable to “Jeff Golub Medical Expenses” to Harner at Chapman & Co. Management Inc., 14011 Ventura Blvd., #405, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423. Harner can be reached at 818-788-9577 or via email at bud@chapmanmanagement.com.

Our sincere condolences and prayers are with the Golub family.

We will continue to update this blog with more information as it becomes available. So, please check back often. Meanwhile, here is the cover story we ran featuring Jeff in the May 2012 issue of Smooth Jazz News.

Jeff Golub

Jeff Golub

Jeff Golub

By Marcia Manna

Contemporary jazz guitarist Jeff Golub has built a reputation as a critically acclaimed and multifaceted musician, known for infusing each of his 10 albums with strains of rock, funk or blues.

On his latest release, The Three Kings, he pays tribute to a trio of blues titans, covering classics such as “The Thrill is Gone” (B.B. King), “Born Under a Bad Sign” (Albert King), and “Side Tracked” (Freddie King). The CD was ranked among the Top 10 blues albums on the Billboard chart in August, 2011, and includes the song, “In Plain Sight,” an original, up-tempo number with a surprising title, especially if you consider Golub’s recent health crisis.

“I don’t know why I named it that,” Golub mused by phone from his home in Manhattan, New York. “I wanted to write a song in the vein of Freddie King, who has written a lot of core instrumentals. It has the same sort of bridge. But it’s ironic because after I recorded it, I lost my sight.”

Adjusting to blindness has been an ongoing journey, filled with dark days and a few enlightened moments. It started when Golub noticed a spot in his right eye during the recording sessions of The Three Kings. He was referred to Dr. Jeffrey G. Odel, a neuro-ophthalmologist at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, and learned that he had a collapsed optic nerve. Though he lost the vision in his right eye, Golub felt that he would adjust. He could still see.

Last year, just weeks after the release after the release of The Three Kings, Golub lost the sight in his left eye. He pondered what he would say to his sons, Chris, 11, and Matthew, 9, and decided to encourage their questions.

“At that age, if my father lost his sight, it would be traumatic,” Golub explained. “My younger son Matthew asked, ‘Are you going to die, Dad?’ I said, ‘No, no. It’s not life threatening. I just can’t see anything. I’ll be banging into stuff.’ My older son who plays guitar said, ‘Dad, you don’t need to see. You keep your eyes closed anyway when you play.’”

Golub’s own father was reluctant but supportive when his son decided to make a living as a musician.

Born on April 15,1955, in Akron, Ohio, Golub grew up with two older siblings in what he describes as a “blue-collar family.” “My dad took me to see a touring version of The Grand Ole Opry at the Akron Civic Center,” he said. “I saw the guitar player behind Porter Wagner and Webb Pierce––with their pompadours and makeup and sparkly suits. I thought––that’s what I want to do; he has dignity.”

Jeff Golub (Photo by Lori Stoll)

Jeff Golub
(Photo by Lori Stoll)

At the age of 10, Golub’s parents bought him a Harmony electric guitar and paid for lessons. But when Golub became a young adult and passed a civil service exam, his father expected him to become a postal worker. Golub had no intentions of becoming a mail carrier.

“My dad worked at the B.F. Goodrich Company. And I loved my dad, he has since passed on, but I was going to continue playing guitar. He stormed out of the room and came back after he calmed down and said, ‘You know, I’ve worked a job I don’t like every day of my life. If I can do anything to help you to not do that, I will.”

Golub auditioned and was accepted to the renowned Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, but left after one year to take private lessons with Berklee professor Mick Goodrick. Goodrick, he said, taught him to “play in the moment” and to focus on “getting back to the magic,” lessons that still serve him today.

Adept at getting the magic, Golub was soon in demand as a sideman, performing at major rock arenas, backing artists such as Billy Squier and former J. Geils Band frontman Peter Wolf.

Golub had bigger dreams.

In 1988, he released his first album, Unspoken Words, on the Gaia label. Hoping to “carry the mantle” of the late jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery, Golub embraced the smooth jazz format because it allowed him to express all the styles he had mastered as a touring sideman and session player.

He became hopeful about his future as a solo artist. But that same year, Rod Stewart offered Golub a job. He had been a fan his whole life.

“I was torn,” said Golub. “They would put a page in the program with my record on it, and I thought, ‘OK, this would be pretty good advertising.’I was happy they considered me and I stayed with Rod until 1994.”

After nearly seven years as a sideman, Golub released his second CD, Avenue Blue. Three of the tracks, including the song “Stockholm,” penned with Rick Braun and David Palmer, received regular rotation on jazz stations.

I was having so much fun,” said Golub. “It was a good time to leave Rod and pursue my solo career.” That career has produced five albums ranking in the top 20 on Billboard‘s jazz music chart. More importantly, it is responsible for a variety of supportive collaborations with old and new friends. There is Henry Butler, for instance, a blind vocalist and pianist featured on The Three Kings.

Butler has been “a big help,” advising Golub on how to get around, what to ask for in performance contracts and how to request assistance from the airlines.

Butler prefers a cane to hail a cab and negotiate travel, but Golub has the benefit of a new guide dog named Luke. The black Labrador retriever is loved by the whole family, which includes Audrey, Golub’s wife of 15 years, his two sons and a mischievous canine called Ozzie, aka the “anti-guide” dog.

And there is Golub’s long-time manager and co-producer Bud Harner, who helped to establish the Jeff Golub Medical Expenses Account along with accountant Helene Cohen and bookkeeper Judy Miller Bailey.

Today, Golub makes the bulk of his income by touring. He is anchored by a sense of responsibility to his family and the hope that one day his blindness will be cured. But finding a cure can be expensive.

The idea for the medical fund sprung from a benefit concert for Jeff at the Hyatt Regency Newport Beach,” said Harner, who works at Chapman Management in Sherman Oaks, California. “The more Jeff got into the testing process, the more out of control the expenses were.”

Musicians such as John Mayer and Bruce Springsteen have donated to the fund online, and smooth jazz artists including Mindi Abair, Rick Braun, Brian Culbertson, Richard Elliott, Jeff Lorber and countless others have performed and donated the proceeds.

“They are all my good friends and I can’t thank them enough,” said Golub. “There are worse things that can happen to a musician. I have faith someone will find an answer to this and having a financial fund that helps me stay on the road and do the things I need to do is great.”

Craig Collier and Jeff Golub at the 2012 Hyatt Regency Newport Beach Jazz Festival (Photo by David Hopley)

Craig Collier and Jeff Golub at the 2012 Hyatt Regency Newport Beach Jazz Festival
(Photo by David Hopley)

DISCOGRAPHY

1988 Unspoken Words (GAIA)

1994 Avenue Blue (Mesa/Bluemoon)

1996 Naked City (Mesa/Bluemoon)

1997 Nightlife (Mesa/Bluemoon)

1999 Out of the Blue (Atlantic)

2000 Dangerous Curves (GRP Records)

2002 Do It Again (GRP Records)

2003 Soul Sessions (GRP Records)

2005 Temptation (Narada)

2007 Grand Central (Narada)

2009 Blues for You (Koch Records)

2011 The Three Kings (E-one Music)

2013 Train Keeps A Rolling (E-one Music)

 

 

GRAMMY nominations announced!

By Melanie Maxwell

Mindi Abair WildHeart

This month’s Smooth Jazz News cover girl Mindi Abair and Gerald Albright were among 14 of Concord Music Group‘s recording artists who were nominated for a 2014 GRAMMY award this morning.

Gerald Albright SlamDunk

Mindi’s Wild Heart and Gerald’s Slam Dunk were both nominated for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album. Nathan East‘s self-titled debut on Yamaha Entertainment Group, and Jazz Funk Soul with Jeff Lorber, Chuck Loeb and Everette Harp (Shanachie) were also nominees in the same category

Nathan East CD cover

More of GRAMMY nominees on Concord Music Group’s roster include:

Chick Corea received two nominations:  Fingerprints for Best Improvised Jazz Solo, and Trilogy for Best Jazz Instrumental Album.

Dianne Reeves received the Best Jazz Vocal Album nomination for her Beautiful Life CD.

Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band was nominated in the Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album category for his Life in the Bubble record. Gordon was also nominated for the track “Get Smart” as Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella; Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals for “Party Rockers” and as composer for Best Instrumental Composition for Life in the Bubble.

Stanley Clarke was also nominated for Best Instrumental Composition for “Last Train to Sanity” from Up (Mack Avenue Records).

Congratulations to all of the nominees!

Winners will be announced at the 57th Annual GRAMMY Awards, airing live from the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, Feb. 8, 2015. For a complete list of nominees, visit www.grammy.com.