Tag Archives: Mindi Abair

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

25 years of Dave Koz!

Dave Koz enjoying a cigar with his friend, TV writer, producer and director Norman Lear

Dave Koz enjoying a cigar with his friend, TV writer, producer and director Norman Lear

There were too many quotes and too little print space to include all of them in our Dave Koz feature story in Smooth Jazz News this month. In celebration of his 25th anniversary as a recording artist, here are the quotes from the beloved saxophonist’s friends and family in their entirety, and a few that weren’t printed in the current issue. Please enjoy reading them and perusing vintage Dave Koz photos, and feel free to add your own quote or comment on this post.

Hats off! Well done! Say all…

Dave Koz, alongside Barry Manilow and Christopher Gardner, receiving his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (photo by Pat Benter)

Dave Koz, alongside Barry Manilow and Christopher Gardner, receiving his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (photo by Pat Benter)

“Congratulations Dave on 25 great musical years! Dave Koz is one of our great musicians, a great human being and a true friend. Love you, Dave!” –– Barry Manilow

Dave Koz and his family dining at Spaghettini & the Dave Koz Lounge in Beverly Hills, California

Dave Koz and his family dining at Spaghettini & the Dave Koz Lounge in Beverly Hills, California

“Uncle Dave made us feel so special. He used to make it a point to play a private concert for my elementary school classes and let me sit on the stage. It was never a question of being too busy for his family.

We would go to his concerts and dance for the finale or get a shout-out from the stage. Being able to really see his world of music made us fall in love with jazz.” –– Taylor Wilson, Dave Koz’s 23-year-old niece (and daughter of Dave’s sister, Roberta Koz Wilson)

Dave Koz mountain biking in Marin County, California

Dave Koz mountain biking in Marin County, California

“When you have an uncle who has exemplified what it means to be truly present, that’s something. What a special treat it’s been to be Dave’s niece. Congratulations to a man who has given all of himself to his craft and those he surrounds himself with. He deserves so much to be appreciated-I know I certainly appreciate him!” –– Jenna Wilson, Dave Koz’s 20-year-old niece (and daughter of Dave’s sister, Roberta Koz Wilson)

Dave Koz and his prom date, Lisa

Dave Koz and his prom date, Lisa

“Dave is unlike any person I’ve ever met. He is always kind, very generous and considerate, always smiling and VERY funny…I love Dave!

I’m inspired by his consistent positive outlook on life. And, not to mention what a fantastic musician he is! I look up to him a great amount. I remember when Isabella and me had a sleepover with Dave when we were maybe about 8 and 11, and we went on the roof to swim in his COLOR-CHANGING Jacuzzi (we were fascinated by this), which sat atop a luxurious bed of plastic grass. We finished off the night by watching ‘Tootsie.’ It was a very sweet night:). There is a very special place in my heart for Dave!

P.S. Oh and btw, yes, being a fantastic musician DOES run in the family; just a little self-promo here: check out my band aquacult on SoundCloud, soundcloud.com/aquacult, Instagram @aquacultband and Facebook aquacult ;))))))” –– Jordan Koz, Dave’s 16-year-old niece (and daughter of Dave’s brother, Jeff Koz)

Dave Koz performing with (the late) Jeff Golub, Kirk Whalum & Marcus Miller at the Hyatt Regency Newport Beach Jazz Festival

Dave Koz performing with (the late) Jeff Golub, Kirk Whalum & Marcus Miller at the Hyatt Regency Newport Beach Jazz Festival

“Dave is such a special part of my life, and though I don’t get to see him much, when I do it is so special and I always have an amazing time. One of my favorite memories with him was the first time I saw him perform. I was so proud of him, and excited about his success! I’m so so proud of him every day, and I’m so lucky to have him in my life. Love you Dave!” –– Isabella Koz, Dave’s 13-year-old niece (and daughter of Dave’s brother, Jeff Koz)

 

Dave Koz, Wink Martindale and Christopher Gardner greet VIPs at AARP's Life@50+ Expo in Los Angeles (photo by David Hopley)

Dave Koz, Wink Martindale and Christopher Gardner greet VIPs at AARP’s Life@50+ Expo in Los Angeles (photo by David Hopley)

“Dave’s my brother from another mother. That dude is something. As a young guy, my first ambition in life was to be a Miles Davis. I played trumpet for nine years. But, then you get to see someone like Dave who has the talent, and has taken it to the top for 25 years.

I just got back from Tokyo, and they were playing ‘Honey Dipped’ in the airport!

My favorite Dave Koz moment was last year when I saw him on tour with Barry Manilow. Dave was moving all around, doing his thing with the tenor saxophone. Then he dunks it, the strap broke, it bounced back in his hands and he kept playing. He had to send that saxophone to ICU, but he kept playing.” –– Christopher Gardner, New York Times best-selling author (“The Pursuit of Happyness,” “Start Where You Are: Life Lessons in Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be”), international speaker and co-producer of the Maya Angelou documentary film in production

 

“Dave should be an ambassador. In fact, he already is an ambassador to the music industry in many peoples’ eyes. Not only is he one of the nicest guys in the business, he’s also one of the most persuasive. Whenever Dave calls, it’s hard to say no. After many years of doing the Dave Koz and Friends Christmas tour, followed up by my own Christmas tour for the next few years, Dave called me to reunite with him and the original members of his holiday tour. This meant that I would have to give up my own Christmas tour for that year. But, I found myself saying, ‘Sure, Dave, I would love to do that,’ without even thinking about it. You just cannot say no to Dave!

He’s a hell of a guy, and I’m proud to have been associated with him over all these years. By the time this goes to press we will have played some shows together in London. One thing that I love to do to Dave onstage in the U.K. is to tease him about not knowing British music. I challenged him with this last year when we were appearing together in London, and he immediately countered by playing ‘Got to Get You into My Life,’ a song he recorded on his Summer Horns album, but written by Lennon/McCartney and originally recorded by The Beatles. Okay, Dave, you got me there.

Congrats on a great career in music! I’ll see you soon!” –– Peter White, guitarist (who is also celebrating 25 years as a solo recording artist)

Cary Hardwick, Dave Koz & Laurie Sisneros giving a Greek cooking demo at Spaghettini in Seal Beach, California (photo by David Hopley)

Cary Hardwick, Dave Koz & Laurie Sisneros giving a Greek cooking demo at Spaghettini in Seal Beach, California (photo by David Hopley)

“There’s a reason Dave Koz has had such a long successful career. He’s a great player and artist, but he’s an even better human being. I remember the first year I played the San Diego Gaslamp festival with my band. It was my birthday, and Dave walked out on stage with a huge bouquet of flowers and played “Happy Birthday” to me. He shows everyone around him so much love. It has to come back to him.

Congratulations, Dave, on 25 amazing years. You’re an inspiration.” –– Mindi Abair, GRAMMY-nominated saxophonist

Mindi Abair & Dave Koz performing at the 2012 KSBR Birthday Bash (Photo by David Hopley)

Mindi Abair & Dave Koz performing at the 2012 KSBR Birthday Bash (Photo by David Hopley)

“Working with Dave on Summer Horns was one of the most wonderful collaborative projects I’ve ever been involved with. Dave and I have known and worked with each other for decades, but this was a truly special endeavor both musically and personally. We all brought our diverse individual passions to the tour. Mine is food. I think I drove Dave and the rest of the gang crazy by pointing out my favorite food hang at every stop. ‘Hey! This town has great BBQ” or “Hey, lets stop at this great Thai place down the street!’

The fact is, we ate together, traveled together, laughed together and made music together. The bottom line is that aside from being a great musician and a great performer, Dave is a great friend, and I cherish that friendship very much.

Congrats Buddy!” –– Richard Elliot, GRAMMY-nominated saxophonist

Dave Koz jammin' with actor John Stamos, Peter White and Gregg Karukas at Spaghettini in Seal Beach, California (photo by David Hopley)

Dave Koz jammin’ with actor John Stamos, Peter White and Gregg Karukas at Spaghettini in Seal Beach, California (photo by David Hopley)

“I just finished touring with Dave and Kenny Lattimore this summer, so I have way too many great memories to share. But if I had to narrow it down, I would say this: Dave is family! I love him as I love my own brother, and we have been there for each other many, many times.

This past summer I really enjoyed every single moment. Many nights I caught myself smiling during our shows, just enjoying the company of a true friend, and being fortunate enough to share the stage with him. I think we were both in a great place, ready to just appreciate the joy of this amazing life we have been given and being able to share it!

Dave is incredibly thoughtful, kind and extremely talented. I have learned a lot from him over the years, and I am looking forward to many, many more memories to be made together in the years to come!

I am so thrilled that Dave was crazy enough to ask me to produce a track for his 25th Anniversary CD ‘Collaborations,’ and humbled that ‘Higher and Higher’ was chosen as the first single from the project.

Here’s wishing you 25 more glorious years, Dave! Love you my brother.” –– Rick Braun, GRAMMY-nominated trumpeter

“I have known Dave Koz for almost 20 years. As meticulous as he is about making music, he is even more so regarding his generosity and compassion to those close to him. It’s an honor to congratulate my dear brother for a quarter century in this business, but even more of an honor to call him my friend.” –– Brian Simpson, keyboardist and Dave Koz Christmas tour co-musical director

 

Candy Dulfer, Dave Koz and Jonathan Butler during a Dave Koz Christmas tour with Randy Jacobs in background (photo by Wesley Kridle)

Candy Dulfer, Dave Koz and Jonathan Butler during a Dave Koz Christmas tour with Randy Jacobs in background (photo by Wesley Kridle)

“My first contact with Dave was in 1996 when he called to ask me to join his band. I had been doing sessions for his brother Jeff, and I had just signed my band, the Boneshakers, to Virgin, so I couldn’t commit. I was re-introduced to Dave in 2003 by [bassist] André Berry at a festival in San Diego, and I later joined him onstage on one of the first cruises (a testing of the waters so to speak for his own upcoming cruise).

In 2006, I was asked to sub for Dave’s longtime guitarist, Tony Maiden, for a show, and then again on Dave’s official cruise. In 2007, Tony rejoined his former band Rufus, and that’s when I got the call from Dave’s then musical director, Brian Simpson, to officially join the band. Eight years later I am still doing it but, as musical director. I will be sharing my musical director duties with Brian on Dave’s Christmas tour this year. He was Dave’s MD for a decade, and came back last year, and so we do it together which feels right and makes it fun. He’s a total pro.

I have a few special memories with Dave, but the one that sticks out happened recently when we went to New York for the UN [United Nations] Summit post-party to play as opener per se for the President. Not only did we get to play and have a great time but I also got to meet and shake hands with President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. How cool is that?” –– Randy Jacobs, guitarist and Dave Koz Christmas tour co-musical director

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By Melanie Maxwell

To read the entire story online, or to subscribe to Smooth Jazz News, visit www.smoothjazznews.com.

Who were Mindi Abair’s birthday party guests in Hollywood?

Mindi Abair with her birthday bouquet during her birthday party in Hollywood, CA, on May 23 (photo by David Hopley)

Mindi Abair with her birthday bouquet during her birthday party in Hollywood, CA, on May 23 (photo by David Hopley)

Mindi Abair celebrated her birthday during Memorial Day weekend at her Hollywood home with celebrity guests from all facets of the entertainment industry (music, TV and movies).

Mindi Abair partying with friends at her Hollywood home (photos by David Hopley)

Mindi Abair partying with friends at her Hollywood home (photos by David Hopley)

Saxophonist Michael Lington, guitarists Randy Jacobs & Chris Standring, vocalist Ellis Hall, keyboardist Patrick Bradley & multi-instrumentalist Dino Soldo were some of Mindi’s smooth jazz friends attending her backyard bash.

Sweetpea Atkinson from the Boneshakers band and Shawn Amos kept the blues vibe going.

Sweetpea Atkinson (The Boneshakers) enjoying birthday cake & Mindi Abair on his lap (photo by David Hopley)

Sweetpea Atkinson (The Boneshakers) enjoying birthday cake & Mindi Abair on his lap (photo by David Hopley)

Although Bill Withers was unable to attend the party, which included full bar service and a catered Greek menu, his wife, Marcia, and daughter, Kori, enjoyed the music and merriment.
Lance Abair hanging out around the fire pit during his daughter's birthday celebration (photo by David Hopley)

Lance Abair hanging out around the fire pit during his daughter’s birthday celebration (photo by David Hopley)

While a few of Mindi’s eclectic array of musical friends gathered around the glass fire pit, seated in comfy wooden patio chairs chatting with the birthday girl’s father, saxophonist Lance Abair, many of the guests negotiated the standring-room only crowd.

Ellis Hall & Mindi Abair jammin' at her birthday party (photo by David Hopley)

Ellis Hall & Mindi Abair jammin’ at her birthday party (photo by David Hopley)

Henry Duarte (rock fashion designer for Aerosmith, The Black Crowes, Lenny Kravitz, etc.) mingled with Tommy Coster, Jr. (Eminem’s co-writer of “The Real Slim Shady”), Keith Allison of Paul Revere and The Raiders, Adam Dorn (the man behind Mocean Worker) and Caprice Crane (best-selling author and the daughter of Tina Louise who played Ginger on the ’60s hit TV show “Gilligan’s Island.”)

Lisa Bradley, Steve Chapman, Patrick Bradley & his daughter, Heather Bradley (photo by David Hopley)

Lisa Bradley, Steve Chapman, Patrick Bradley & his daughter, Heather Bradley (photo by David Hopley)

Dick Blasucci, who used to head up MadTV toasted the birthday girl alongside other guests such as Felice Manicini (Henry Mancini’s daughter and president of The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation) and Harvey Mason, Jr. (son of Harvey Mason Sr. and producer/writer for artists such as Beyonce, Jennifer Hudson, etc.)

Holly & Tracy Carter, Pat Prescott & Randy Jacobs inside Mindi's house celebrating her birthday (photo by David Hopley)

Holly & Tracy Carter, Pat Prescott & Randy Jacobs inside Mindi’s house celebrating her birthday (photo by David Hopley)

Mindi Abair & Chris Standring (photo by David Hopley)

Mindi Abair & Chris Standring (photo by David Hopley)

Penny McGlure & husband, Madison Guerra, Pat Prescott & Mindi's boyfriend, Eric Guerra (photo by David Hopley)

Penny & Roy McGlure, Madison Guerra, Pat Prescott & Mindi’s boyfriend, Eric Guerra (photo by David Hopley)

In addition to Smooth Jazz News, members of the media included 94.7 The WAVE’s Pat Prescott, publicist Jalila Larsuel and music critic Bob Lefsetz.

One of Mindi's birthday cakes (photo by David Hopley)

One of Mindi’s birthday cakes (photo by David Hopley)

The birthday girl getting ready to light the candles on her cakes (photo by David Hopley)

The birthday girl getting ready to light the candles on her cakes (photo by David Hopley)

Mindi Abair blowing out candles on her birthday cakes (photo by David Hopley)

Mindi Abair blowing out candles on her birthday cakes (photo by David Hopley)

Mindi Abair & Madison Guerra (daughter of Mindi's boyfriend, Eric Guerra) - photo by David Hopley

Mindi Abair & Madison Guerra (daughter of Mindi’s boyfriend, Eric Guerra) – photo by David Hopley

Of course, there was also bowls of candy on every picnic table and a few birthday cakes, two of which were decorated with icing images of the sweetheart who loves sugary treats. Shortly before Mindi cut her cakes, also surrounded by her mother as well as high school and college friends, Ellis grabbed a guitar and started a brief jam session. And, when it was time to sing the “Happy Birthday” song, the melodic voices added to the magic of the evening.

Mindi Abair's birthday party at her home in Hollywood, CA  (photo by David Hopley)

Mindi Abair’s birthday party at her home in Hollywood, CA (photo by David Hopley)

Happy Birthday, Mindi!

Mindi Abair enjoying Ellis Hall's jam during her birthday party (photo by David Hopley)

Mindi Abair enjoying Ellis Hall’s jam during her birthday party (photo by David Hopley)

By Melanie Maxwell

Jazz Happenings in Southern California this Weekend-May 16, 2015

Thornton Winery's Champagne Jazz Series in the Southern California Temecula Wine Country (Photo by Pat Benter)

Thornton Winery’s Champagne Jazz Series in Southern California’s Temecula Wine Country (Photo: Pat Benter)

When the sun returns to Southern California after the current cloudy and rainy skies, there are a couple of cool jazz outings to consider this weekend.

Saturday, May 16, 7 p.m.

Saxophonist Mindi Abair & guitarist Nick Colionne performing together (Photo by KT Jones)

Saxophonist Mindi Abair & guitarist Nick Colionne performing together (Photo by Pam McGregor)

Thornton Winery’s 27th Annual Champagne Jazz Series presents GRAMMY-nominated saxophonist Mindi Abair & The Boneshakers, with Chicago-based guitarist Nick Colionne opening

Mindi Abair & Nick Colionne (Photo by KT Jones)

Mindi Abair & Nick Colionne (Photo by KT Jones)

Thornton Winery is located at 32575 Rancho California Road, Temecula, California. For tickets and information, visit www.thorntonwine.com or call 951-699-0099.

 

Saturday, May 16, 7 & 9:30 p.m

21-year-old saxophonist Vincent Ingala

21-year-old saxophonist Vincent Ingala was named Smooth Jazz News’ 2011 Debut Artist of the year

Vincent Ingala “Coast to Coast” CD-Release Party

Spaghettini & the Dave Koz Lounge Beverly Hills

184 N. Canon Dr.

Beverly Hills, California

Tickets and information: www.spaghettinibh.com, 310-424-4600

Blog post by Melanie Maxwell

Seabreeze Jazz Festival ticket giveaway!

enter_to_win_1

By Melanie Maxwell

Click here for a chance to win a pair of 4-day passes (Thursday-Sunday) to the 17th Annual Seabreeze Jazz Festival presented by ResortQuest in Panama City Beach, Florida: http://dev.smoothjazznews.com/enter-win/

When: April 22-26

Lineup:

Wednesday, April 22 Jazzy Dinner Cruise on St. Andrews Bay aboard the Solaris entertainment yacht featuring Brian Culbertson (sold out), boards at 6:30 p.m., sails at 7 p.m.

Thursday, April 23 Jazzy Lunch Cruise on St. Andrews Bay aboard the Solaris entertainment yacht featuring Eric Darius (sold out), boards at 10:30 a.m., sails at 11 a.m. (Both cruises, which are sold out, sail from the Lighthouse Marina, 5325 N. Lagoon Dr., Panama City Beach, Florida)

On festival grounds (gates open at 3 p.m.) Urban Jazz Coalition with Althea René, 5p.m.; The Rippingtons featuring Russ Freeman, 6:15 p.m.; Euge Groove, 8:30 p.m.     After-Party All-Star Jam hosted by Eric Darius, 10:30 p.m., Pompano Joe’s at Pier Park

Friday, April 24 Sax Pack 10th Anniversary CD-Release Party featuring Jeff Kashiwa, Steve Cole and Kim Waters (includes a lunch appetizer buffet, private performance, question-and-answer session with the band and signed copy of the new CD), noon, Pompano Joe’s (rooftop stage, overlooking the Gulf of Mexico)

On festival grounds (gates open at 3 p.m.) Down to the Bone, 5 p.m.; Ken Ford, 6:30 p.m.; George Benson, 8:30 p.m.

After-Party All-Star Jam hosted by Euge Groove (sold out), 10:30 p.m., Pompano Joe’s at Pier Park

Saturday, April 25, on festival grounds (gates open at 8:30 a.m.) Rob Tardik, 9:30 a.m.; Eric Darius, 11 a.m.; Acoustic Alchemy, 12:30 p.m.; The Sax Pack featuring Jeff Kashiwa, Steve Cole and Kim Waters, 2 p.m.; Brian Culbertson, 4:30 p.m.; Al Jarreau, 6:30 p.m.; BWB featuring Norman Brown, Kirk Whalum and Rick Braun, 8:30 p.m.

After-Party All-Star Jam hosted by Brian Culbertson (sold out), 10:30 p.m., Pompano Joe’s at Pier Park

Sunday, April 26, on festival grounds (gates open at 8:30 a.m.) Ryan Montano, 9:30 a.m.; The Seabreeze Groove Project featuring Four80East, Matt Marshak and Marcus Anderson, 11 a.m.; Chris Standring, 12:30 p.m.; Mindi Abair & The Boneshakers, 2:30 p.m.; Jazz Funk Soul with Chuck Loeb, Jeff Lorber and Everette Harp, 4:30 p.m.; Josh Vietti, 6:30 p.m.; David Sanborn, 8:30 p.m.

Seabreeze Jazz Festival After-Party hosted by Four80East, Matt Marshak and Marcus Anderson, featuring special smooth jazz guest stars and surprises (free admission), 10:30 p.m., Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville at Pier Park

Where: Aaron Bessant Park Amphitheater, 500 W. Park Dr., Panama City Beach, Florida

Getting there: Flights are available to the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (ECP) in Panama City Beach, and Northwest Florida Regional Airport (VPS) in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. The venue is approximately 10 miles from ECP and 55 miles from VPS.

Couple enjoying a spectacular view of the Gulf of Mexico from a Resort Quest condo in Panama City Beach, Florida

Couple enjoying a spectacular view of the Gulf of Mexico from a ResortQuest condo in Panama City Beach, Florida

Staying there: Accommodations at reduced rates are available through ResortQuest by Wyndham Vacation Rentals. For reservations, visit www.seabreezejazzfestival.com/accommodations.html or call 855-990-0087 and mention group code “JAZ5” for the discounted rate. Free round-trip shuttles are available to the festival for occupants of ResortQuest properties.

Tickets and information: Visit www.seabreezejazzfestival.com (which also features information on other accommodations partners) or call 800-595-4849.

For more information on the Seabreeze Jazz Festival, check out pages 11-13 of the April 2015 issue of Smooth Jazz News.

*NOTE: In their commitment to contribute to the community, the Carters are offering a four-day pass ($250 value) to the Seabreeze Jazz Festival in exchange for each good, used, band instrument donated to L.I.N.K.S. of Northwest Florida (Lonely Instruments For Needy Kids). This non-profit program takes used band instruments, repairs them and puts them in the hands of disadvantaged kids who wouldn’t normally be able to participate in their local middle or high school band programs. Playground Music Center in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, is collecting the donated instruments. For more information, call Tony Leonard at 850-243-2514, or visit www.seabreezejazzfestival.com/links.html.

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

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)

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.

Dave Koz & his friends celebrate the season at Spaghettini Beverly Hills

Dave Koz  (photo by Bryan Sheffield)

Dave Koz
(photo by Bryan Sheffield)

By Melanie Maxwell

We haven’t sat down yet for the big Thanksgiving spread, but after last night I certainly have “visions of sugarplums dancing in my head.”

Rather than St. Nick shouting “Now Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now Prancer and Vixen! On Comet! On, Cupid! On Donner and Blitzen! Dave Koz dragged a sleigh-full of celebrities to Spaghettini & the Dave Koz Lounge in Beverly Hills on Sunday, Nov. 23.

In addition to showing off the new restaurant before its official opening on Dec. 10, Dave was kicking off his 17th Annual Dave Koz & Friends Christmas tour and the release of his latest CD, The 25th of December.

Dave Koz & Friends "The 25th Day of December" CD

Dave Koz & Friends “The 25th Day of December” CD

And, guess who was there? Johnny Mathis!

Dave Koz & Johnny Mathis performing at Spaghettini & the Dave Koz Lounge in Beverly Hills (Photo by Ambrosevents.com/Ellis Moore)

Dave Koz & Johnny Mathis performing at Spaghettini & the Dave Koz Lounge in Beverly Hills (Photo by Ambrosevents.com/Ellis Moore)

“It’s not Christmas until you hear Johnny Mathis sing,” said Dave as Mr. Mathis maneuvered his way through a standing-room only crowd of close friends, family, artists, industry insiders, Concord Records executives, guests of 94.7 The WAVE, and Dave’s Spaghettini partners Laurie Sisneros, Cary Hardwick and Glen and Debbie Bickerstaff.

When Johnny stepped onstage, that’s when the magic happened. Still smooth at 78, Mr. Mathis began singing the fond, memory-invoking lyrics of “It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year.” And, the band featuring Randy Jacobs, Brian Simpson, Nathaniel Kearney Jr. and Jay Williams didn’t miss one note as they accompanied the living legend. Plus, these musicians had already performed three Christmas songs with Dave, as well as Maysa, Jonathan Butler and Eric Benét.

This moment even warmed the hearts of seasoned performers such as Peter White, Rick Braun and Mindi Abair (who embark on A Peter White Christmas tour this week), David Benoit (who also performs his Christmas Tribute to Charlie Brown beginning Nov. 29 in Brea, CA) and Kenny Lattimore.

As soon as I receive the photos from Ellis Moore and Ambrose, I will share them with you here. So, please check back.

You can read more about the Dave Koz & Friends Christmas tour in the December-January issue of Smooth Jazz News, which will be available on Dec. 1, www.smoothjazznews.com. For more information about Dave Koz,  including his upcoming tour dates, visit www.davekoz.com.

 

When is the Smooth Jazz News Anniversary Party?

Smooth Jazz News' 15th anniversary parties are scheduled for Jan. 25 & Feb. 8, 2015, at Spaghettini in Seal Beach!

Smooth Jazz News’ 15th anniversary parties are scheduled for Jan. 25 & Feb. 8, 2015, at Spaghettini in Seal Beach!

By Melanie Maxwell

When and where will be celebrating Smooth Jazz News‘ 15th anniversary?

We’re having two brunch parties at Spaghettini Fine Dining & Entertainment in Seal Beach, California; Sunday, Jan. 25, and Feb. 8!

Camella & Richard Elliot enjoying the 2014 SJN anniversary brunch at Spaghettini in Seal Beach, CA (Photo by Pat Benter)

Camella & Richard Elliot enjoying the 2014 Smooth Jazz News anniversary brunch at Spaghettini in Seal Beach, CA (Photo by Pat Benter)

We originally hosted small gatherings in one of the private banquet rooms at Spaghettini as a “thank you” to our advertisers, which also included a few artists.

Craig Collier & Sonia Patton enjoying serenade by Phil Perry & Ray Fuller at the 2014 Smooth Jazz News anniversary brunch at Spaghettini in Seal Beach, California (photo by David Hopley)

Craig Collier & Sonia Patton enjoying serenade by Phil Perry & Ray Fuller at the 2004 Smooth Jazz News anniversary brunch at Spaghettini in Seal Beach, California (photo by David Hopley)

As our business grew, so did our guest list for these annual parties that we used to have in December. We then changed the date to January, and reserved a section of the lounge, where the band (usually DW3) performs. And, our musical guests would sit in with the band.

Because 94.7 The WAVE broadcasts live during brunch, they would announce each surprise guest as they arrived. This attracted huge crowds of jazz fans. Our anniversary celebrations became so popular that we had to hold two separate events to accommodate all of our advertisers. It also gave the general public more opportunity to make individual reservations to enjoy Spaghettini’s legendary brunch and surprise performances by some of their favorite artists. And, we are thrilled that we can share these milestones with our readers.

Because these brunches have sold out in recent years, advance reservations are strongly suggested.

And, although we know where and when, we don’t know who our special musical guests making surprise appearances with DW3. That will be a secret until the day of the event. But, here are some photos of this year’s 14th anniversary celebration.

Mindi Abair & Peter White celebrating Smooth Jazz News' 14th anniversary at Spaghettini in February 2014 (Photo by Pat Benter)

Mindi Abair & Peter White celebrating Smooth Jazz News‘ 14th anniversary at Spaghettini in February 2014 (Photo by Pat Benter)

Rick Braun & Dave Koz sitting in with DW3 at the SJN anniversary brunch at Spaghettini (Photo by Pat Benter)

Rick Braun & Dave Koz sitting in with DW3 at the Smooth Jazz News anniversary brunch at Spaghettini (Photo by Pat Benter)

Christiane, Emma & Rick Braun at Spaghettini in Seal Beach for SJN's 14th anniversary celebration in February 2014 (Photo by Pat Benter)

Christiane, Emma & Rick Braun at Spaghettini in Seal Beach for Smooth Jazz News‘ 14th anniversary celebration in February 2014 (Photo by Pat Benter)

Mindi Abair sitting in with DW3 at the Smooth Jazz News 14th anniversary brunch in February 2014

Mindi Abair sitting in with DW3 at the Smooth Jazz News 14th anniversary brunch in February 2014 (Photo by Pat Benter)

Rick & Emma Braun at the SJN brunch party at Spaghettini in Seal Beach, CA (Photo by Pat Benter)

Rick & Emma Braun at the Smooth Jazz News brunch party at Spaghettini in Seal Beach, CA (Photo by Pat Benter)

Spaghettini is located at 3005 Old Ranch Pkwy., Seal Beach, California. To make reservations, call 562-596-2199 or visit www.spaghettinisb.com. For more information, check out Smooth Jazz News in print or online, www.smoothjazznews.com.