group Ultrablue was founded by keyboardist and producer John Smatla
and jazz guitarist Dave Stryker. John Smatla, a native of Cleveland,
Ohio, did some great music jobs as keyboardist in NY. Dave
Stryker, originally from Omaha, Nebraska, is a well-established
guitarist in NY's jazz scene. His other projects are Stryker Slage
band, The Blue To The Bone band, Trio Mundo, The Shades Project and
The Dave Stryker Big Band.
Ultrablue is the living prove that established jazz
musicians are no jazz purists and also like to play melodious smooth
jazz. Their first album was "Dusked 2 Dawn", released in
April 2003 on the Khaeon label. A label with the impetus to release
music of jazz professionals which are hardly instantly recognizable to
the general public because they are mostly playing in the second row
behind the jazz giants. The farsightedness of Khaeon unfortunately
wasn't paired with economical success. That leads to the decision to
change the label. The new album is released by 215 Records. A label
with more promotional power and some rather successful smooth jazz
artists like Soul Ballet, e.s.t., Bob Baldwin, Steve Briody, Greg
Adams, Gene Dunlap and more.
All songs on the new album except "Jungle
Fever" and "The Summer Knows" were written by John
Smatla who also produced the album, partly with David Mann. On the
first time I listened to Shiver I
remarked a certain similarity to Shakatak's and Soul Ballet's music.
David Mann is performing the melody on sax, while Dave Stryker sets
jazz accents with brilliant guitar riffs.
On The Night With You Dave
Stryker literally said borrows some money by George Benson. That isn't
meant in a disrespectful way. Dave has the same caliber like this
smooth jazz icon. John Smatla's arrangements, performance and
songwriter-qualities are first rank too. My utmost admiration! Phil
Hamilton perfectly adds a nice humming along.
is showcasing more of Phil Hamilton. You will certainly have crossed
with that fabulous singer whose intense performance can be heard on
albums like "A Brighter Day" (Ronnie Jordan),
"Jewels" (Chieli Minucci), "Feel The Music" (Spyro
Gyra) or "Touch" (Bill Evans). Hey, that's pure Samba!
I tell you no Indiscretions
when I already recommend you this album after the fourth track. John
Smatla's accomplished sense for groovy music isn't unbeatable. He
consumes and reinvents all styles of music smooth jazz stands for.
The famous Michel Legrand composed the song The
Summer Knows in 1971 for the movie Summer of '42, an extremely
successful film. He won the Academy Award for the movie
score. This sentimental evergreen is perfectly covered by John Smatla
(piano) and Pete Belasco (sax).
Guest star on Soul Candy
is jazz celebrity Randy Brecker (trumpet, flugelhorn). Allure (Linnie,
Lalisha, Akissa, Alia) add background vocals, the Brazilian guitarist
Romero LuBambo ("Brazilian Nights") his typical guitar
Jungle Fever was
originally performed by Chakachas, a big hit in the 70's. John Smatla
shows how professional musicians can refine a disco hit. Absolute the
master of art: Nestor
David Mann's platform. This popular sax player ("Touch",
Insight", "Games") is often heard in the smooth jazz
scene. Jim Savitt's "Hear& Now"), John Favicchia's
"Dharma", Freddy Cole's "In The Name Of Love",
Barry Danielian's "Common Ground" are pave stones of his
career. David Mann plays sax (solo, overdubs), produced and mixed the
Some years ago I had the pleasure to meet Gabriela
Anders in Germany. This personality has a superb voice. None can sing
so smooth like her. Destiny
The Sound Of Goodbye
is a great finale in the style of a movie score.
Do we need any other affirmation that Ultrablue is
one of the most creative smooth jazz groups of this decade? Certainly