From the opening gong, you know you're in for a treat with Obon. Marking Hiroshima's 25th anniversary, the new disc is the Japanese-American group's first without vocals—save a wordless chant by Shoji Kameda on "Obon Two-Five. Formed by Dan and June Kuramoto (the only Japanese native in the group) in 1979, Hiroshima has successfully blended traditional Japanese sounds with North American pop, soul, R&B, and of course jazz.
Radio Music Society is the fourth studio album by Esperanza Spalding, which was released through the record label Heads Up International on March 20, 2012. The album earned Spalding Grammy Awards for Best Jazz Vocal Album and Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) for the track, "City of Roses".
An Evening with Dave Grusin is essentially the soundtrack to the Blu-Ray DVD product, and an app for the iPad, both of which have loads more features. The composer, arranger, and pianist conducts the 75-piece Henry Mancini Orchestra in a live program of his own music – tunes written for cinema – as well as the works of composers Gershwin, Bernstein, and Mancini. The show was co-produced by Grusin's longstanding business associate and collaborator Larry Rosen and Phil Ramone.
Summer Madness is a new kind of Richard Elliot recording. For one thing, the cast includes two other horn men augmenting Elliot's signature sax work: trumpeter/trombonist Rick Braun, who also produced the album and, on several tracks, baritone saxophonist Curt Waylee. Most importantly though, the music was created from scratch as Elliot and his handpicked musicians formulated and honed their ideas in the studio, with Braun's ultra-capable guidance. For Elliot, recruiting the additional players and having the entire band plus a well-respected veteran producer help him shape the music was integral to the project's success.
In four short years, contemporary/smooth jazz tenor saxophonist Jessica Arellano (Jessy J) has made quite a splash. Hot Sauce, her Heads Up International debut – and fourth album overall – was produced by Paul Brown, and includes guest appearances from heavyweights Joe Sample, drummer Harvey Mason, guitarist Ray Parker Jr., and vocalist Saunders Sermons. Arellano wrote or co-wrote eight of the album's ten compositions.