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Category Archives: Featured Music Artist

INTRODUCING THE PRINCE OF NEO-SOUL” LUCA DIMOON

Introducing Luca Dimoon, a multi-talented singer, songwriter, composer and producer. With his poetic music, Luca manifests a soulful expression of words and sounds. Influenced by the Soul, Funk, and Jazz masters, he shapes his own style using Electro elements resulting in a fusion of Cosmic Soul, Cyber Funk and Dirty Jazz.

Born in Milan, Italy in 1982, the first son of a Sicilian painter (ex-Jazz musician), Luca started his relationship with music breathing in his father’s collection of Motown and Blue Note records and at the age of 8 he joined the local church choir.

Though his musical sensitivity was already proven, the interest for visual arts was more recognized, so he studied fine arts to develop his impressive skills as a young painter and sculptor.

“Music was more like a private passion. Singing was a pure device to express my instinctive feelings. Fine arts was my natural way to share concepts of the philosophies that I was beginning to explore”.

It was after moving to London at the age of 18 that music took his spirit completely and became the absolute priority. Luca’s decision was to concentrate all of his artistic energy on improving his gifts by learning to play Piano, Guitar, Bass and Trumpet.

His initial recordings attracted offers from major record labels, with the intention to make him a Pop/R&B Act. Inevitably his profound artistic integrity made him refuse those offers.

Later he signed a short deal with an Independent Label who got him involved in a successful compilation that peeked at number one on the charts and sold over 700,000 copies.
Currently working on his second album “Telescope” of which Luca has released two singles: “Twilight” and his rendition of the classic “People make The World Go Round”, yielding thousands of downloads within the first day, radio station plays around the world and media/press coverage. His artistry has also led him to travel around the world as a featured performer to cities including New York City, Paris, Moscow, Marrakech, Buenos Aires, London and Bangkok. Luca’s music is soul invading without being intrusive placing him in the same category as promising neo-soul artists like Maxwell, D’Angelo and Musiq Soulchild. Each of Luca’s musical compositions leaves his listeners mesmerized by his soulful voice and sound. DJ Frances Jaye Put the man in rotation month’s ago…She decided it was time for everybody else to get familiar….

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Zo!

Zo!(n) — 1. Metro Detroit-born, Metro DC-based musician/producer Lorenzo Ferguson. 2. An exceptionally talented multi-instrumentalist who claims the piano/keyboard as his primary instrument, but is self-taught on the bass guitar, the drums, and most recently the guitar. 3. A Musical Architect who utilizes all sound elements to form original compositions that can be classified under no single genre of music.

With a catalog that dates back to 2001, Zo! began to generate interest in his music by completing and circulating five instrumental projects from 2001 through April of 2003. He began to receive the most attention from two particular titles – Zo! Presents…Passion & Definition (2004) and remix album Re:Definition (2005). Passion…, released in July of 2004, is a soul-driven instrumental album that boasts a 21-track lineup of thick low-grooving rhythms that all possess a wonderful warm quality. Both albums thoroughly showcase Zo!’s ability to expand musically as he plays all of the different instruments live.

Though largely known for his solo work, Zo! has collaborated with a variety of artists from the likes of Finale, Slum Village, Asylum 7, YahZarah and Sy Smith to Asheru, Kev Brown, Platinum Pied Pipers, Little Brother, and The Foreign Exchange. In 2004 he teamed with producer Waajeed of the Platinum Pied Pipers (PPP) to play keys on the lead single “Stay With Me” featuring vocalist Tiombe Lockhart, which appears on their debut album Triple P.

After relocating from Michigan to Maryland on February 10, 2006, …just visiting was released the following month. This vinyl-only release contains six tracks of remade classics, including “Caught Up In the Rapture”, “Free,” and “Star of the Story”. At the end of 2006, Zo! completed the production work for yet another instrumental album entitled Freelance, a 15-track creative spectrum of work once again showcases Zo!’s abilities not only as a talented multi-instrumentalist, but as a dedicated composer who has a deep appreciation for the art of creating music.

During the production of …just visiting, Zo! met and began working with Phonte of Little Brother as 2005 came to a close. Little did they know, they were building a working foundation for what would lead to larger-scaled future collaborations with Zo! contributing production work to Little Brother on their 2007 Getback album (‘When Everything Is New’) and The Foreign Exchange’s acclaimed 2008 Leave It All Behind LP (‘If She Breaks Your Heart’). In the summer of 2008, Zo! and Phonte released their limited edition CD (2500 copies) and ode to 80’s music entitled Zo! & Tigallo Love the 80’s.

On New Year’s Day 2009, Zo! joined up with Detroit emcee Asylum 7 to create a collaborative ‘1 Producer / 1 Emcee’ project entitled Overdue Process, which can be found and purchased on iTunes and the Tasteful Licks Records site.

One can catch Zo! rocking the keyboards with the DC band The ELs (who also double as the touring band for The Foreign Exchange), playing keys and bass for the Platinum Pied Pipers, or playing keys for vocalist/musician AB.

On November 3, 2009, Zo! received more attention by releasing the sequel to …just visiting entitled …just visiting too, which features vocalists Sy Smith, Carlitta Durand, Phonte, and Darien Brockington. …just visiting too, comprised of seven classic records (“Nights Over Egypt,” “Perfect Angel,” and “Highways of My Life”) received an excellent response from the net accumulating more than 20,000 downloads in its first two weeks of availablilty. The Roots’ drummer, Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson was even spotted on Twitter the night after JV2’s release sending the link to several ‘important’ followers of his stating, “Meet @zo3hree5ive (Zo!), your favoritistist producer, the evidence? (…just visiting too link provided)”

Zo! released his highly anticipated solo project SunStorm. So far the collaborating artists include: Phonte, Sy Smith, YahZarah, Rapper Big Pooh, Darien Brockington, Lady Alma, Jesse Boykins III Carlitta Durand, and Monica Blaire. SunStorm is slated for a July 27, 2010 release under The Foreign Exchange Music imprint. Zo! has also recently contributed keyboard work to producer/musician Nicolay’s 2009 release, Shibuya: City Lights 2 (“Shibuya Station” and “Wake Up In Another Life”) and production (“Shadow”), keys work, and bass playing (“Why Dontcha Call Me No More”) to YahZarah’s new album, The Ballad of Purple St. James.

Grab the free download of Just Visiting Three here:

http://www.theforeignexchangemusic.com/2011/07/zo—just-visiting-three.php

 

Watch some of Zo’s videos here:

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Mara Hruby/ From Her Eyes

This album introduces a new twenty-two year old artist named Mara Hruby from Oakland, CA. She arrived on the scene at the start of 2010, playing shows throughout the Bay Area, and is releasing her debut EP, From Her Eyes. Mara has worked on this album for the past nine months; she has applied her multi-talented dedication to recording, arranging, and engineering her own work. She has performed on stage, dancing and backing other artists in the Bay Area; unconsciously preparing herself for this path. She has chosen to speak through music in order to connect with those of us who love music.

During an interview with a local entertainment magazine, Mara was asked to describe her sound: “My sound/style comes from what I have experienced in life. I feel my sound is organic, distinct, melodic, eclectic, and filled with sensitivity. To say the least, I’d call my music a melodic melting pot.”

The current practice of recording “covers” of well known music by well loved artists, has led to some very creatively unique results. The surprise breakthrough of Les Nubians’ version of Sade’s mellow and soulful ballad, “The Sweetest Taboo,” helped their American debut album, Princesses Nubiennes, to achieve a higher position on the Billboard charts than any other French-language album had in the previous decade.

These seven tracks represent the genesis of the view “From Mara’s Eyes” of the various works of her favorite male artists. Each song is connected to a memory experience in Mara’s young life. The beauty and elegance of Van Hunt’s “Character,” Bob Marley’s love of Jah, Mos Def’s soulful poetry, André “3000” Benjamin’s “Take Off Your Cool,” as well as D’Angelo’s “Send It On” – are all examples of art forms from today’s exceptional musicians.

Mara Hruby is a mesmerizing artist who performs on stage with poise and grace. You will be surprised to discover how naturally her music will enter your heart.

http://marahruby.com/

See Mara perform live here………

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Gregory Porter/Water

Born in LA, and raised in Bakersfield, CA and currently residing in Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn, NY. Vocal artist extraordinaire Gregory Porter has found a new dwelling place to call home and execute his unyielding talent on the New York and global music scene.

Porter’s debut “Water,” is on the internationally independent record label Motéma Music. It’s produced by the multi-facet saxophonist, pianist and composer Kamau Kenyatta. Grammy winning jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalissays Porter is “a fantastic young singer.”

The opener “Illusion,” is definitely for the relationship minded folks. You’ll find Porter’s vocal presence warm, cool, and confronting. Coupled with pianist Chip Crawford, in a duo setting this jewel serves up what could easily be considered a timeless masterpiece in the making. OnIllusion, Porter boldly expresses himself lyrically through the immeasurable pain that’s often felt on the imminent journey of love that is reflected in the sobering nuances that are divulge from his smooth, and elegant timbre is reminiscent of early influences including Donny HathawayNate King Cole and Joe Williams.

Porter’s versatility is simply amazing. His vocal prowess is noticeably different from most male vocalists you hear these days. Actually, his passion for music soared beyond the normal backdrop to extract his energy into the open canvas of theater. Porter’s initial success on stage came with “It Ain’t Nothing but the Blues.” By chance, doors where open for another theatrical production featuring Eloise Laws of the famous Laws family from Houston, TX.

Remarkably, Gregory Porter exhales thoroughly by utilizing his explosive range drawn from his intense training in theater on “Pretty.” Whereas he’s obviously steeped in the fabric of jazz, Porter purposefully en-wraps the fervor of his voice in a medium to interchange ideas in the body of the song with his fabulous cohorts to express themselves fluently in tone and harmony. The gifted Porter talent rests his in the accomplished hands of producer Kenyattawho’s responsible thus far for Porter’s career continuing in increasing flight.

Often times musicians are motived to write about something or someone that might seem a odd or even quirky to us as listeners. For instance, a tune called “Magic Cup,” appears amidst this wonderful palette of music. Porter identifies here in song his passion for of all things “coffee,” simply because he “loves coffee.” This energetic tune was written for a “beautiful friend who works at a coffee shop” that he visits regularly. Star Bucks [MacDonald’s] give this dude a contract to help promote your product!

Woven in the framework of this project there are three enchanting and refreshing songs: the incredible classic “Skylark, (Mercer).” Porter vocally works this gem adding his own colorful twist and charm. It’s followed by the jubilant “Black Nile (Shorter)” which soars as his dynamic vocals and scorching instrumentation romp with intensity and on the coattail is the thought-provoking “Wisdom” composed by his friend and mentor Daniel Jackson“In retrospect, Porter says this song could be about the post-Katrina (New Orleans) experience.” Believe it, this unquestionably jazz at its finest. They bravely delve into a prolific journey entrenched in the elements of jazz that some estranged jazz enthusiast called real jazz in the sixties. Real jazz … should I, or who’s to say what’s so real about it?! Their infallible interplay aligned with Porter’s swagger is compliant to the raging waters birth within these magnificent songs will indeed provoke “jazz” aficionados to fully engage themselves in this music.

Internationally known and traveled, Gregory honed his skills as an artist in Russia. In fact, 17 times he endured the bone shattering cold to perform and returned as a better performer.

One of the most fascinating aspects of this recording is that Porter does hesitate to do something musicians seem to avoid is recording music that’s politically charged. He recorded a tune titled “1960 What?” It was inspired in part by composer/pianist/producer Kamau Kenyatta while living in Detroit! 1960 What? By definition is absolutely fascinating! Furthermore, 1960 What? lyrically resides in company of the provocative song writing style of the lateCurtis Mayfield! This gem is entangled in the indelible roots of his gospel, jazz and the blues influences in which Porter brilliantly articulates vocally throughout. This song is dedicated to tragic assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr in 1968. as well as Kenyatta’s experiences growing up in Los Angeles.

On “But Beautiful” Porter gently washes away the intricate pains of love with pure emotional intensity. Yes, the brother can croon!

The lyrical content on “Water” exudes freely with unblemished treatments provided by Porter as he slowly caresses the mournful melodies emphasized on “Lonely One.” Lyrically this song is tale of a tragic love story. Meantime the enthralling title track “Water” features the beautiful compliment of Chip on the piano. Finally, the soulful “Feeling Good” Porter sings in a cappella with raw conviction concludes this mesmerizing session.

Gregory Porter’s debut “Water” is a graceful endeavor that mirrors the accomplishments of his predecessors with unrivaled artistry on his behalf. Porter embarks on a heart jarring musical journey on “Water” Porter aligns his voice with the intimate details that embraces matters of the heart. He’s without a doubt soulful, affluent, and classy and his exquisite baritone is understated. Mr. Porter’s unassuming quest to establish his voice via meaningful music is transformed by his radiant character is more than welcomed on the shelves and media players of jazz enthusiasts’ who decidedly love quality music! -Rob Young

http://www.gregoryporter.com

 

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Gretchen Parlato

 

Gretchen Parlato’s 2009 sophomore breakthrough, In a Dream, signaled the arrival of an incredibly inventive modern jazz singer. Her follow-up, The Lost and Found, demonstrates that she has staying power. In a Dreamgarnered international acclaim with Billboard magazine hailing it as “the most alluring jazz vocal album of 2009”; it also made it onto the top year-end polls for Jazz Times, the Boston Globe, the Village Voice and NPR. The Lost and Found shows immediate weight and intensity, exposing a greater dynamic range. “I feel like I stepped out of my own way and allowed myself to be more revealing and vulnerable through the music,” reflects Parlato.

Revealing a seamless, crystalline, and more importantly, personal voice, Parlato says that the overall theme of The Lost and Found is about accepting opposition and embracing the ebbs and flows of life. “One day we may think we’ve found all the answers, and then something suddenly happens that makes us feel completely lost as though nothing makes sense. This is life. Accepting that we are always in transition without attaching a judgment to the experience is freeing. We are always the lost and found.”

An alumni of the Thelonious Monk Institute, Parlato has been turning heads ever since she won the 2004 Thelonious Monk Institute International Vocal Competition with which she displayed a musical individuality loaded with paradoxical powers. Her sultry, intriguing voice and unique, rhythmically agile phrasing came with inescapable centripetal force; the more intimate and understated she sang, the more she drew listeners in. Since then she has toured worldwide to sold out audiences with BBC Radio proclaiming, “Star over London…A star is born!” Her originality captivates musicians as well, prompting invitations to appear on over 50 recordings with the likes of Terence Blanchard, Kenny Barron, Terri Lynn Carrington and Esperanza Spalding. Her breathtaking performances have been captured on television in Europe and Japan and she has become a sought after clinician on vocal styling.

On her third disc, Parlato surrounds herself with a collective of kindred spirits whose tight knit sound has been cultivated through years of performing and recording together. She marshaled GRAMMY nominated pianist Taylor Eigsti, bassist Derrick Hodge and drummer Kendrick Scott as her main band mates with guest appearances from tenor saxophonist Dayna Stephens and bassist, Alan Hampton, who makes a stellar turn featured as a singer and guitarist. Leaders in their own right, this band is among the most heralded of a young, new wave in jazz. “I adore these musicians, not only for what they do, but also for who they are,” Parlato says. “We couldn’t have had a more supportive, productive energy recording this album.” That energy allowed her to reach subliminal musical heights; one that truly engages in delightful, often adventurous musical conversations that tickle the mind, warms the heart and moves the body. “They all contributed so much to the project, in the end it truly felt like a collaborative effort.”

“Collaborative effort” is no overstatement. The Lost and Found sees Parlato emerging as a thoughtful composer and lyricist. In fact, she wrote lyrics to several compositions such as Eigsti’s haunting “Without a Sound;” trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire’s plaintive “Henya,” and Stephens’ suspenseful title track. In a duet on Hampton’s “Still,” Gretchen’s gentle musing about compassion and forgiveness is made more poignant by his raw vocals. “Alan created such a meditative and deceptively simple groove I wanted to write lyrics that were like a mantra. Something that in its repetition becomes extremely powerful. What better theme than love?” She also composed the music and wrote the lyrics for the evocative bossa-nova tinged, “Winter Wind,” the hopeful “How We Love,” the sensual “Better Than” and the hypnotic “Circling” that contains verses that typify the entire disc’s meditations on light and darkness. “‘Circling’ plays with the idea of cycles in our lives,” explains Parlato. “The ones we have no control over like birth and death as opposed to the cycles we do control, behavior patterns that we get ourselves into.” Pianist and GRAMMY nominated composer Robert Glasper came on board as
associate producer. “I love working with Robert, not only in composing, but in reharmonizing and arranging. There is such an immense love and respect between all of the musicians and Robert knows exactly what to do and say to keep everyone inspired.”

On The Lost and Found, Parlato further develops her knack for reinventing intriguing R&B songs with her daring yet delectable makeover of “All That I Can Say,” a Mary J. Blige tune, penned by Lauryn Hill, and Simply Red’s “Holding Back the Years.” The latter track, which serves as the album’s opener, begins with Scott laying down an infectious R&B groove. Glasper can be heard in the background, vibing to the beat as the music quickly fades into the full ensemble (recorded by Parlato on her iPhone during a rehearsal).

With both tracks, Parlato and her band retain the soulful essence of the songs while steering far enough so that they don’t delve into treacle mimicry. “Gretchen doesn’t try to be anything she’s not. Every remake is an honest one,” Glasper says. “She’s always herself.” The disc also features the jaunty “Me and You,” from singer/songwriter Josh Mease and a sterling Glasper/Parlato rearrangement of Bill Evans’ “Blue in Green” with lyrics by Meredith D’Ambrosio.

Gretchen Parlato is on an exploration, which leads the conversation among the band and makes for unexpected treasures. Inspired by Wayne Shorter, one of her mentors, she wrote lyrics to his classic ’60s jazz composition “Juju.” The interaction between Gretchen and saxophonist Stephens showcases her ability to use her voice as an instrument-blending with the horn while adding counterpoints. On “Without A Sound,” her haunting vocals seem to add another dimension to the remarkably textured harmony already created by Hodge layering 3 parts using only his electric bass. And on one of the disc’s most revealing moments, the singer shows her love for Brazilian music on Paulinho da Viola’s “Alo Alo.” A solo rendition, Parlato layers all of the percussion
and sings all the vocals.

With The Lost and Found, Parlato has delivered a powerful testament to the beauty of space and simplicity. “I’ve become more interested in finding not only a higher, but a deeper level and connection in music. And this seems to be done by shedding everything, and getting right to the heart and core.”

Go here to see more and hear her music

http://www.gretchenparlato.com/

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