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Contemporary Jazz/Soul and R&B Vocalist Maysa Leak Releases Her Eighth Album

Reviewed by Lee Jarmon

Maysa Leak, "Maysa"

Maysa Leak, “Maysa”

Throughout her 20 years within the music business, Maysa has truly made her mark as a highly acclaimed singer/songwriter in the genres of Contemporary Jazz and R&B. Musically she is known as just “Maysa” as her preferred stage name. Her voice ranges from an alto which gives you that smooth velvety sensation is what brings her music to life. Like many great female singers such as Anita Baker, Lalah Hathaway, Jill Scott, and Ledisi, without a doubt, Maysa has one of those distinct voices that are recognizable no matter what genre she sings. With her latest album, it truly reflects her persona and chemistry unlike any other. Her eighth album titled Back 2 Love, debuted May 26, 2015, by Shanachie Entertainment. According to the Smooth Jazz website, for 26 weeks, it currently ranks #3 on the Smooth Jazz Top 50 charts. Like most of her previous albums, the music from Back 2 Love is what sets the moods. No matter if it’s a Contemporary Jazz, R&B, Pop, or a mixture of all, Maysa knows how to lighten the mood through her voice.

Eighth Album "Back2Love"

Maysa’s eighth album “Back2Love”

Featured on this album are few of the best world-renowned artists, musicians, songwriters, and producers, according to allmusic.com. Some of those individuals include featured artists, vocalist/composer Phil Perry, composer/keyboardist/producer Chris “Big Dog” Davis, guitarist Rohn Lawrence, vocalist/ composer Stokley Williams, and many others (www.allmusic.com). Born Maysa Leak, she was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. At age six, she knew that she wanted to be singer. According to her website, she recalls her mother taking her to a Broadway musical titled Purlie and at the time seeing Melba Moore take the stage back in the early seventies. She quotes, “When Melba Moore came on stage and sang her heart out, I knew at that moment I wanted to make people feel that way she made me feel” (www.maysa.com). Maysa attended Morgan State University where she graduated with a degree in classical performance. As a college student she met Stevie Wonder and joined his group Wonderlove for one year after graduating. In 1991, she appeared on the soundtrack to the movie Jungle Fever (www.maysa.com). Four years later, she signed with GRP Records to record her first self-titled solo album. Throughout most of the 1990s, she had made herself known as she began recording with a lot of the mainstream Contemporary Jazz and R&B artists. In the early 90s, a British Jazz/Funk/R&B super group called Incognito, currently led by founder and guitarist Jean-Paul “Bluey” Maunick. At the time the group needed of new lead singer. Maysa auditioned for the spot over the phone and got the job according to her website. She recorded nine albums with the group and currently tours as their featured vocalist. By the early 2000s, Maysa signed with Shanachie Entertainment where she made an impact on two of her albums Sweet Classic Soul (2005) and Feel The Fire (2007) which she performed her skillful talent on placing her unique sound on certain songs that were from the 70s. Her 2013 album titled Blue Velvet Soul allowed Maysa to be nominated for her first Grammy for the song “Quiet Fire.” A year later, she released her first Christmas album titled A Very Maysa Christmas (www.maysa.com). For her latest release, Maysa has done a magnificent job with Back 2 Love. The title track and “Keep It Movin” both emphasize her sound. Both tracks offer a groove that is upbeat and energetic that truly portrays her persona and her style of performing. This album does have a bit of Jazz but seems to drift a bit more into the Pop and R&B genre based on the music. It does portray Maysa as the type of vocalist who has perfected her craft as an established singer. Back 2 Love is a true work of art.

 

Sources:

www.smoothjazz.com

www.allmusic.com

www.maysa.com

www.romanticjazz.host22.com

Jazz- Fusion keyboardist Jeff Lorber and bassist Jimmy Haslip Step It Up for their latest Release

Reviewed by Lee Jarmon

Jeff Lorber and Jimmy Haslip

Jeff Lorber and Jimmy Haslip

For over 40 years, Grammy- award winning keyboardist, composer, and producer Jeff Lorber, has been highly acclaimed as one of the iconic pioneers of fusion. He along with his longtime colleague and friend Jimmy Haslip (The Yellow Jackets), have played and tour together for many years. For a few years, Grammy-award winning bassist, composer, and producer Jimmy Haslip collaborated with Jeff on some of their previous projects. Together they perform as “The Jeff Lorber Fusion.” Their latest album titled “Step It Up,” was released October 2, 2015, by Heads Up International, a division under Concord Music Group. It peaked to # 23 on the top 50 smooth jazz charts (www.smoothjazz.com ). Step It Up features a few of the best world-class musicians of all times. Featured on this project are two former members of the jazz-fusion super group “The Yellow Jackets.” Those two members include saxophonist Bob Mintzer and guitarist Robben Ford. Also featured are guitarists Michael Thompson and Paul Jackson, Jr., percussionist Lenny Castro, drummers Ash Soan, Gary Novak, and Vinnie Colaiuta, David Mann on horn arrangements and many more (www.allmusic.com). Two of the songs titled, “Get Up” and “Mustang,” are a mixture of contemporary jazz, funk, and fusion. Between Lorber and Haslip, they composed some of the most intricate melodies and riffs that you could never imagine. Some of the movements that were written are also performed on some of the odd-time intervals. Their chemistry, technique, and stage presence it what sets them aside from other acts.

Jeff Lober Fusion "Step It Up"

Jeff Lober Fusion “Step It Up”

Born in Philadelphia, PA in 1952, Jeff began playing piano at four years old. In his teens, Lorber started playing with a few local R&B bands. It wasn’t until he attended Berklee College of Music where he began to pursue jazz. After graduating from college, he decided to pursue music professionally. According to Jeff’s website, “The Jeff Lorber Fusion” was formed in the late 70s, as he relocated to Portland, Oregon. In 1977, the group released their first self-titled album (www.jefflorber.com). At that point, he had become a prominent figure in the jazz fusion genre. Now at 63, Jeff continues doing what he does best which is performing, writing, and producing. Currently, The Jeff Lorber Fusion is touring to promote their newest album. Step It Up is undoubtedly a one- of- a- kind album.

 

Sources:

www.jefflorber.com

www.allmusic.com

www.smoothjazz.com

www.popmatters.com

www.somethingelsereviews.com