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ISSUE NO. 193—DIGITAL EDITION July/August 2020

Bob James

Jonathan Butler

Kirk Whalum

Dave Koz

Richard Elliot

Plus, commentary from Eric Darius and Marcus Anderson

Gail Jhonson




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www.JazzTrax.com | 866-Trax Tix (866-872-9849)


CONTENTS Publisher and Managing Editor Melanie Maxwell Operations & Distribution Manager Craig Collier Copy Editors JoAnn Armke Paula Fitzgerald Barbara Knox Brad Sondak Contributors Ken Capobianco Cashmira Marcia Manna Contributing Photographers LaSalle Barnes Photography Roy Cox Photography Studios, Baltimore, Maryland David Hopley Miranda Jackson Photography Peter Morey Raj Naik Bobby Quillard (Gail Jhonson on cover) Irvan Risnandar (Dave Koz on cover) Lori Stoll Aric Thompson Anna Webber Graphic Design Stephani Rosenstein Smooth Jazz News 5519 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., #134 San Diego, CA 92117 858-541-1919 smoothjazznews@aol.com www.smoothjazznews.com Due to COVID-19, we have temporarily paused the publication of our seven, annual, print issues of Smooth Jazz News. During this time, we offer digital-only editions on www.smoothjazznews.com

The publisher assumes no responsibility for claims or actions of its advertisers. Opinions expressed herein are not necessarily those of the publisher, staff or advertisers. No portion of this publication may be reproduced in any form without prior written permission from the publisher.

©2020, Smooth Jazz News | All rights reserved

Smooth-Jazz News/123513291125001 @SmoothJazzNews

Please enjoy this digital-only edition of Smooth Jazz News while we temporarily pause publication and subscriptions of the print edition during the COVID-19 pandemic

7 Thank you!

To the advertisers, sponsors and donors who made this digital issue possible

8 Notes from the Publisher

A plea to be part of the drastic change that needs to happen to finally achieve “Liberty and Justice for all”

10 Will the Black Lives Matter movement bring a new paradigm for racial equality and justice? Here are perspectives from successful Black artists … Jonathan Butler Kirk Whalum Gail Jhonson Eric Darius Marcus Anderson

page 11 page 13 page 16 page 18 page 19

21 DISCover New Music

The latest releases from Marcus Anderson, Earnest Walker Jr., Isaac Edwards and 64merlot

22 Black Lives Matter immensely to musicians who thrive in a multiracial community. Three white artists share their illuminating experiences. Bob James Dave Koz Richard Elliot

page 22 page 23 page 25

27 Cashmira’s Starguide July-August horoscopes

28 Smooth Jazz News merchandise Fleece jackets, new hoodies, golf shirts, T-shirts, hats and ladies tank tops

NOTICE: Artists, events, venues, dates and show times are subject to change without notice, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic and evolving government and health officials’ mandates. Smooth Jazz News is not responsible for any cancellations or changes or the accuracy of any concert, cruise or festival information contained in this online publication in advertisements and/or editorial, which has been provided by outside sources. Please contact each venue directly to confirm all information.

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T O O U R S P O N S O R S A N D A D V E RT I S E R S With shelter-in-place and other government guidelines in effect due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the usual slate of summer smooth jazz concerts, cruises, festivals and art shows have been postponed, causing the temporary pause of the print publication of Smooth Jazz News. No ad revenue means no budget for the magazine. However, several advertisers and donors stepped in with contributions that allowed us to create this special digital edition. Therefore, we acknowledge these generous sponsors who made this issue possible.

Kathy and Willie Payne

William “Cadillac� Banks

Sheryl and Tevis Laukat 2 Jazz FANatics


Art Good

Dave Koz and Mark Graham

Camella and Richard Elliot


At home, my father not only instilled patriotism and a strong work ethic in me and my siblings, but he was adamant about making sure we never prejudged anyone based on their race. He rarely spoke of the racial trauma he witnessed and extreme poverty he endured growing up in rural Jim Crow Kentucky, roots he abandoned as a teenager to join the Navy. The only prejudice I ever remembered seeing was on network news viewed on our small, black-and-white, three-channel television set, which we watched together as a family in the living room.


time for a meaningful conversation about racial injustice and the actions needed to change it. And, I’d like to start it within our smooth jazz community. Please understand that this is not intended as a divisive political

debate. We are in a humanitarian crisis, one that adversely affects many of the artists we love and our friends within this genre. And, it must end. I’d like to share a very personal story, which I normally wouldn’t do, but feel it’s important to support this effort. When San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the national anthem during the 2016 NFL preseason,

On Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving holidays, my father invited a few homesick sailors from his ship to join us. On each occasion, at least one of those guests was Black. Throughout my adolescence, teenage years and into adulthood, my inner circle of friends has always been multiracial. And, I always considered myself to be pretty “woke” (as the kids today say) since early in my life. So, when Kaepernick was asked why he remained seated on the bench during the national anthem, I was curious to hear his answer. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color,” he said to reporters four years ago. “To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” I believed in his cause, but wondered if there was a different way

I felt that he was disrespecting everything my naval officer father

he could protest this important matter without disrespecting the

and his fellow military brothers and sisters fought for to defend our

flag and all who serve and have served it.

freedoms. At the time, here were my reasons:

Well, people are protesting in a more powerful way now. With

I was raised in Navy housing in San Diego, California. As a little

the recent civil unrest sparked by murders of Black people by white

girl, I played hopscotch on the sidewalk with a melting pot of other

policemen, concerned citizens of all ethnicities are out marching in

neighborhood children. During the summer, while our fathers

masses … during a global pandemic no less!

worked at the naval base or were out to sea on aircraft carriers, our

For nearly two weeks following George Floyd’s murder in

stay-at-home moms arranged slip-and-slide parties in a neighbor’s

Minneapolis on May 25, I was paralyzed in grief, as I watched

backyard (the one with the steepest slope). They also hosted potlucks,

more traumatic events unfold from my 65-inch, enhanced-color,

serving pimento-cheese finger sandwiches, deviled egg salad, collard

smart TV. First, video surfaced that same day of Amy Cooper,

greens with smoked ham hocks, lumpia, Jell-O molds, pineapple

in New York Central Park’s Ramble, calling 911 on Christian

upside down cake, big pitchers of Kool-Aid, and, if we were lucky,

Cooper (no relation)—an innocent Black, bird-watching,

doughnuts and cookies from the Helms Bakery truck.

Harvard-educated science editor. Days later, this was followed

During the school year, I placed my left hand over my heart and

by reports and footage of prior unreleased accounts of Breonna

recited the Pledge of Allegiance alongside my Filipino, Hispanic,

Taylor gunned down by police in her own home by mistake on

American Indian, Black and other white classmates. Each morning,

March 13, in Louisville, Kentucky; after that, video was leaked

we said in unison, “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States

of the Feb. 23 murder of Ahmaud Arbery in Glynn County,

of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under

Georgia; and yet more incidents coming to light. Then another

God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.” As a patriotic

preventable shooting: Rayshard Brooks on June 12, in Atlanta.

military daughter, I believed every word of it. I also assumed that it

And, recently, the resurfacing of the senseless 2019 death of

held true for those in my multicultural community.

23-year-old Elijah McClain in Aurora, Colorado.

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With so much of this brutalization caught on cellphone cameras,

by the police, handcuffed and thrown in the back of a police car.

one might think racism in America is getting worse. It isn’t:

No explanation why. He pleaded with the cops to let him go so

Technology to capture more of it has simply improved.

he wouldn’t be late for the soundcheck. They weren’t having it.

Watching that officer torture Floyd for eight minutes and 46

He begged them to call the producer of the show to confirm his

seconds to his death, and other tragic events, caused my change of

scheduled performance. Eventually, they did, and he was released. Let

mind and heart about Kaepernick’s crusade. I get it. I now realize

that sink in for a moment.

that I can’t only view issues through the lens from my experiences as

Have you ever wondered what your favorite smooth jazz artist or

a blonde-haired, blue-eyed white person. So, now I have unwavering

musician, who is Black, had to endure to pursue their passion and

support for those who kneel during pregame ceremonies for a flag

achieve their dream of becoming a headlining performer and/or

and country that often eliminates them from the basic rights to

recording artist? And, how that might have been different from their

which they are entitled under that pledge.

white peers? Would you mind taking a moment to ask yourself why

If anyone reading this still has doubts about the existence of systemic

or how Black lives matter to you?

racism in our country and how it affects Black

For those who still want to scream out “All

Americans, before you dismiss it, I kindly

Lives Matter,” maybe Stevie Wonder can explain

ask that you become curious about African

it better than me.

American history. If you don’t want to go as

“Yes, all lives do matter, but they only matter

far back as when Africans were kidnapped and

when Black lives matter, too,” Wonder said in

forced into a horrific life of slavery, then start

a video posted on his Twitter page

with the beginning of jazz.

(@StevieWonder). “It’s a sad day when I

Within most of our lifetimes, Black

can see better than your 20/20 vision,” the

entertainers weren’t allowed to use bathrooms

superstar, who is blind, added. He then

and entrances at the venues where they

suggested, “To those who say they care, move

performed. Black people couldn’t eat at

more than your mouth. Move your feet to the

restaurants or use restrooms, water fountains,

polls and use your hands to vote.

public parks, beaches or swimming pools used by whites.

“I hear voices on the left, I hear voices on the right. I’ve been

They had separate entrances to doctor’s offices, and “colored only”

following everything that’s being said. But what I have not heard is a

waiting rooms. They had to ride at the back of streetcars and buses.

unanimous commitment to atone for the sins of this country.”

Eventually, they were allowed into theaters, but could only sit in the

It is in the spirit of engaging dialogue and doing the work needed to end racism that we dedicate this issue of Smooth Jazz News. I hope

balcony or other designated areas. And, just last year, a Black musician friend of mine shared an

you read every article and truly hear the passionate perspectives

appalling experience he had on tour. After weeks traveling with

from some of our smooth jazz heroes. Then, hopefully, join me in my

the band by bus, he decided to take an afternoon walk on a busy

commitment to being part of the drastic change that needs to happen

street near one of their venues. Within minutes, he was stopped

to finally achieve “Liberty and Justice for all.”

Sarah Vaughan

Billie Holiday

Dizzy Gillespie

Duke Ellington


Photo: Anna Webber


By Ken Capobianco THE TRAGIC KILLINGS of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery this year have sparked a seismic change in American life and the largest nationwide protests since the civil rights movement in the 1960s. Support for the Black Lives Matter movement has gone international, and calls for the end of police brutality and systemic racism are finally being taken seriously by the institutional powers (government, law enforcement, the judicial system and businesses) that have worked to oppress the Black community since this country’s birth. Real systemic change doesn’t happen overnight, though, and genuine reform may be incremental, but it does seem that we are on the cusp of a new America with greater opportunity and equality for our Black citizens. We talked to five prominent African American smooth jazz artists to get their perspective on this crucial moment in history, racism and their experiences in their personal and musical lives.

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Jonathan Butler By Ken Capobianco


introduction. The singer-songwriterguitarist who has enchanted listeners with his crossover pop-jazz-gospelworld music fusion since the late 1970s is a native of South Africa. So, he brings a unique perspective to the Black Lives Matter-fueled protests propelling change in the United States. A survivor of South Africa’s brutal apartheid regime, Butler watched the long-imprisoned Nelson Mandela rise to become the

country’s first Black president—an experience that has given him a keen understanding of what must occur for genuine reform to come to America. When he speaks, one listens carefully. “For systemic change to happen, it takes a collective mind, body and soul of a nation to actually acknowledge that there’s actually been systemic racism and injustice to begin with,” he said recently via phone from his Los Angeles-area home. “Let me quote Scripture: ‘Confess your sins unto another, so you may be healed.’ Unless we get to a place where we

acknowledge that we have strayed from what we profess to be the truth that God created man in his image, and we are all created by God, it won’t happen. It’s going to take a lot of work.” Butler knows that changing entrenched American prejudices and the unyielding power structures will not be easy, but his experiences in South Africa make him hopeful. “I’m an optimistic person, ultimately. I am a child of the struggle in South Africa, and come from apartheid and segregation, and I continued on page 12

Photo: Raj Naik


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have experienced racism. I’ve lived it. Racism didn’t just fall from the sky. It was taught. “I grew up in a society in South Africa, where even the German shepherd police dogs were trained to bite and kill a Black man. So, I do believe there is a positive way forward to get us to move past this horrific systemic racism. Let’s say, it’s positive that we are addressing this now. “But you are always going to hear so many white people say ‘I’m not racist’ or ‘I don’t see color.’ Well, you know what? I do. I’m Black, and you are white, and we have to recognize the social injustice and the white privilege I grew up with that was in our faces every day we woke up. If you were light skin, you were colored; you lived in a colored community; you went to a colored community school or church. If you were Black, you lived in the townships. Whites lived in white areas. I have white friends in South Africa that live the most amazing lives. I lived with that in my face for so many years and will never forget it.” By his own admission, the beloved vocalist believes the bitter divisions within America will make it difficult for real reform to take hold. “Right now, America, France and Germany are recognizing the governments are failing. If the governments fail, the people must rise up. In South Africa, we rose up against apartheid because it was wrong. “And it took a collective effort, including companies deciding not to invest into South Africa, which helped bring the government to its knees. The way the nation is right now— divided—it will be very tough.

It must be a collective effort; you don’t accomplish much if you are divided. But how do we persuade some white guy in a rural area of America to stop all the systemic injustice and hatred? A lot of that is out of fear. Will they change? I don’t know.” Changes to a belief system or way of life make people feel uncomfortable, but Butler believes this discomfort is not only good but necessary. “The most healthy place to start is when you are uncomfortable because that’s when you really learn to grow.

“Racism didn’t just fall from the sky. It was taught.” “Remember, in South Africa, it was Jewish, white, Indian people, Muslims, Christians together, and we all stood alongside one another in protest of a brutal government exercising brutality, hate, the killing of Black kids and innocent people. It was a collective fight. You must know the African National Congress wasn’t just made up of Blacks, and all the people who went to jail with Nelson Mandela were not all Black. This kind of collective effort is what must happen in America if we want to see real change. Human rights should not be about Democrat or Republican. Human rights are human rights.” Animated and impassioned throughout the conversation, Butler

emphasized repeatedly how much this issue mattered to him. He said white people must come to terms with the stain of racism in American history and the damage it has caused. “Until there is real admittance, if that’s the right word—and I’m not saying repent because everyone has to repent about something—but there has to be a real acknowledgment of it’s not right to say, ‘I’m not racist because I had a Black friend or two.’ No, that doesn’t make it OK. I have white friends too, but with them, I have to be very clear that I do see color because what they have experienced growing up is definitely not what I’ve experienced. “And, here’s the thing: Black Lives Matter doesn’t mean only Black people matter. It means we matter, too. Our history of enslavement and brutality and incarceration. It matters. The cards were not dealt the same way for my white friends in South Africa who I love dearly or my white friends here. That’s an issue we must address.” As an exalted musician, Butler says he is not inoculated from the random indignities and overt racism infecting the country. “I’m grateful to God for the platform I have to engage and enlighten people, but I don’t feel like I have a status that protects me from racism. It just allows me to speak up when I get the opportunity. You know why I am dealing with it still? Because I’m afraid for my children and very afraid for my grandchildren. “I’m afraid if a policeman stops them or if they go to school, they will be called names or bullied. Or they may be stereotyped by their teachers or peers. Me, as a Black

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man? That’s what I worry about. In this climate, people are being stopped and frisked and thrown down on the ground. It’s frightening. We have the conversations at home with our children. Remember, racism is taught, and we need to talk to the younger generations about the stuff we don’t ever want them to go through. And if that means if we have to protest or pull down a statue, great. Statues are to intimidate and put fear in human beings. The statues of the Confederacy represent fear and slavery.” Butler, who has been very vocal about racism in America, is dismayed that more music artists are not joining the conversation. “I will say I’m very discouraged by other artists in this industry, who have had great success with Black music and Black musicians. There are artists who have not stepped up to speak.

Photo: Anna Webber

“If they could have just come out and speak up, it would matter. It hurts me a lot. Deeply. Let me be honest. When I woke up the day George Floyd was killed, I thought about my children, my daughters, my grandchildren. I’m proud that they were in downtown L.A. protesting. It blessed my heart because that’s what we did in South Africa. That’s what we need to see. So, yes, I’m upset that my colleagues and friends have been quiet. This is about action and not just saying you care. No, not good enough. There must be action.” He is adamant in his belief that the kind of collective effort that made history in South Africa is also possible here, but only if white people decide to be part of the solution. “White people need to be engaged and find out what Black Lives Matter really means. Find out what Color of Change means. Ask the questions and be

open to listening, and be open to agree that this systemic and white privilege is real. Ask what can I do and what can I be a part of? “Align yourself with what is going on right now. Don’t look at it like they are taking away your freedom. For all my white friends, I’m here to sit and talk to you. And I’m here to have the conversation we are having now, so it reaches the world. I sing onstage, and you hear me declaring this onstage, telling my story and sharing my heart, so there’s always the opportunity to have a conversation. Remember, confess your faults through another, and you will be healed. To say you are not at fault, you become part of the problem, and, ultimately, you want to be on the right side of history.” For more information on Butler, visit www.jonathanbutler.com.

Kirk Whalum By Ken Capobianco


long history of delivering joy and uplift to his audiences throughout his decades-long solo career and his collaborative work with BWB—a trio he’s part of with Rick Braun and Norman Brown—plus many other artists. He brings just as much passion to a discussion about the Black Lives Matter movement and racism in America as he does to his spirited gospel, jazz and funk music. He believes we are witnessing a true paradigm shift in the country, and is optimistic that the long-delayed American reckoning is about to arrive. “We’re seeing the words Black Lives Matter being uttered by the most unlikeliest of people. White people are finally wrapping their heads around the fact that Black lives are more continued on page 14


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vulnerable than ever, and we have to reckon with this thing we’ve been putting off for so long,” he said via phone from his home in Memphis. Whalum added that there are concrete initial steps the country can take to make positive reforms. “A Truth and Reconciliation Committee that happened in South Africa is what we need. If we get there, we can begin real change. But there’s a lot of resistance right now to the idea that this is real and there’s a real existential threat to Black people. It’s not theoretical. I have two Black sons who are grown, and

“This election will be important, and not just on a presidential level, because if Mitch McConnell can stay in office—someone who said, ‘Oh, a Black president nominated a Supreme Court justice. Well, no, I don’t want to do that.’ Think of that. He wasn’t president, but he had the power to say, ‘It’s something I won’t do.’ That type of white privilege and white supremacist leaning activities are a lot harder to get away with now just because of the last month. That’s a pretty significant thing.”

“I have two Black sons who are grown, and three Black grandsons, and all of them and me are in a vulnerable position every single day.” three Black grandsons, and all of them and me are in a vulnerable position every single day. That hasn’t changed in many years. So, the question is to everyone, ‘Are you willing to acknowledge that, and are you willing to help us change this?’” However, the Grammy winner also acknowledged that with reform will come the kind of blowback we’ve seen in recent years. “Now we can put on the board that we’ve had a Black leader of the known world with President Obama. We know as we roll our sleeves up that we do it within a context where the people who have fueled and protected blatantly racist systems did so without fear of retribution.

For Whalum, the goals of the Black Lives Matter movement and reform are in sight. “To me, the endgame is clear, and it was clarified by the man [Nelson Mandela] who sat in prison for 27 years to think it through. Truth and reconciliation. We’ve got to do it. You can cajole your kids to take the medicine, but they actually have to say, ‘Yes, I’ll take the medicine,’ for things to change.” The Tennessee native who continues to surprise with his eclectic songbook and inspire with his spiritual messages said that white people who want to help their Black brothers and sisters need to educate themselves and check their privilege. “People need to get

busy and do their homework. Your opinion is literally meaningless. “I’m talking about Joe Blow living in white America. As much as I love him, we don’t need his opinion about what he doesn’t know. I live in this microcosm of the area of music, and it makes the contrast about white and Black America more evident. I can be surrounded by people—Black, white and otherwise—who would really dig spending time with me. They’d say they’re honored, ‘Oh man, I hung out with Kirk Whalum,’ but then I can get in a taxi or my car, and you know the rest, man. The stories are the same. “People think, ‘Oh, you are a celebrity, oh, not you,’ and I can tell them ‘yeah, me.’ And that really brings things into focus. Look at the Central Park [The Ramble] situation. There was a Black man, with a doctorate, bird-watching, but to the lady, he was a threatening Black dude she could weaponize the whole New York City Police Department against. You get prejudged and have to hold your breath.” He pointed out a prime example of white privilege masked in good intentions within the jazz world. “I was approached by a really well-known artist in smooth jazz to do something, and I really respected it, so I said, ‘Absolutely, I’m with you,’ but the

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artist is white. He or she—to keep it fair—would have been leading the charge under the auspices of that artist, and I was on top of this with my manager, who is white. We said, ‘No, that person can’t lead this to open the discussion and mediate because that’s almost entirely about white privilege. “The person who approached me used a certain language like, ‘If we can have this conversation with your credible voice and help, ‘but then they said, and I want to get this exact for you …” He paused and searched for the email. “Here it is. They said, ‘In a ‘thoughtful, kind, and inclusive manner.’

make the decisions are white, and the bands that play the sessions are white. I can go on.” He hesitated and chuckled to himself. “People say, ‘You can be anything you want to be in this country, but you just have to be good enough.’ Well, now stop, please. You are wrong. You have to be white enough in a lot of cases. I always make a joke, and he will get a kick out of this, but I say, ‘If Dave Koz had written this song, it would be a hit.’ Not all of my songs, but I can pick five songs easy that if they were by Boney James, they’d be hits.” Whalum added that he hoped more artists in the jazz community

Ultimately, Whalum, an ordained minister, believes that if real change is going to occur, it’s going to take everyone’s involvement. “The young people in the Black Lives Matter movement have suggestions for solutions, but the real solutions are going to have to come from white people because they have done the homework and gone to school to understand our reality. “And, as God would have it—you know the first will be last and last shall be first—the teacher is going to be the guy who takes out the trash, the sanitation worker or that Black single mom who has suffered because white evangelicals say no abortions; you can’t have them.

“We’re seeing the words Black Lives Matter being uttered by the most unlikeliest of people. White people are finally wrapping their heads around the fact that Black lives are more vulnerable than ever, and we have to reckon with this thing we’ve been putting off for so long.” “And I was thinking that’s antithetical to the sweeping change that is needed. The change needed is not going to be thoughtful and kind. It’s going to be very cutting and uncomfortable. I jokingly responded, ‘Thoughtful and kind? I’m mad as hell.’ We have to work together, but we have to be honest about what’s happening.” Whalum grew animated when discussing the power structures in smooth jazz that are almost exclusively white. “In the smooth jazz area—and I’m not really a card-carrying smooth jazz artist—what I have seen is all of management is white, the people who

would speak out, especially in the deeply passionate way of keyboardist-composer Bob James, who posted a moving tribute to Black Lives Matter on his social media pages. “I will say Bob James is a guy I owe my career to—he discovered me, got my first record deal, and I’ve traveled the world with Bob so much. I thought his diatribe—beautiful, soul-searching, transparent—he posted is exactly what is going to have to happen. He set the tone for what comes next. If people haven’t seen it, they need to look it up. I responded with so much love and appreciation to him.”

“And, that mother may have been victimized in a relationship for whatever reason, and she’s there with three kids but no one to help. Her resources have been weeded out due to meritocracy. They judge her after telling her no abortion. It’s really complicated, man. Remember, when America gets a cold, Black people get the flu. It’s that simple. And it has to change.” For more information on Whalum, visit www.kirkwhalum.com.

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Gail Jhonson

Photo: LaSalle Barnes Photography

By Ken Capobianco

KEYBOARDIST GAIL JHONSON is a longtime stalwart

on the jazz scene. She’s worked with numerous jazz luminaries, including as musical director for Grammy-winning guitarist Norman Brown. She also founded the all-woman powerhouse group Jazz in Pink, and released five stellar solo records on her own label, Philly the Kid Records. And, as a Black woman in a white male-dominated industry, she thinks we are watching the beginning of a new era in American life. “This is a definite time for change,” she said. “Everything must change eventually. But I do think this is different and a moment in history. I never thought that Nelson Mandela would have been released after 27 years in prison and become the president of South Africa. “That was absolutely phenomenal, and we never could have imagined it, so real change is possible. I certainly didn’t expect a Black president in the United States in my lifetime. I knew it was possible, but I didn’t think it would be that soon. This could be another one of those moments.” The Los Angeles resident, who was born in Philadelphia, thinks it’s going to take a village to turn the course of history and bring about racial equality. “It’s going to take everyone,” she said. “Since the civil rights movement, it’s taken every man, woman and child to make things happen. “We used to think that people were just following Dr. King and

watching him march, but people were doing the little things in their neighborhoods, schools, churches and homes, so it was all of their collective work that brought the civil rights movement. And, that’s what we’re going to need now.” She looks to the younger generations to be the real engines of reform. “I applaud the young people who are getting out there now. And they are looking back at history and religion and sexism and making the connections to race. The paradigm is changing—not just in America but all across the planet.” Jhonson’s son tragically passed away earlier this decade. And, she is also the mother of a 26-year-old daughter, whom she voiced concern about during this tumultuous time. “I worry about her future—how she

can handle the obstacles and all the things going on. So, I have to prepare her, be a friend and listen. She needs to participate and be proactive and be part of the change. You can’t wait for the party to start. You have to initiate and do what you know is right.” Exuding positivity and grace, Jhonson discussed how everyone can contribute to the solution, and why white people need to have empathy for the Black community’s struggle to help produce true change. “I’d say to white people to believe what is going on. Systemic racism is real. My son used to get so many

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“We used to think that people were just following Dr. King and watching him march, but people were doing the little things in their neighborhoods, schools, churches and homes, so it was all of their collective work that brought the civil rights movement. And, that’s what we’re going to need now.” parking tickets that we decorated the tree with them. It was ridiculous. I’m a conservative driver, as is his dad, and we taught him, but for some reason that boy kept getting stopped every time he went to Hollywood. The police were always singling him out. “I wish they took a minute to get to know how funny, nice and cool my son was, then they wouldn’t come at him like that, but it was just profiling.” The problems, she explained, extend far beyond the policing system. “The image is that all the white kids are not smoking pot or doing bad things—they ignore the white boys smoking at country clubs or wherever, but they catch the brother on the corner. And we get it—a lot of different people make mistakes or hang out with the wrong crowd, but with the criminal justice system, if a white boy gets caught with coke, he gets a year probation, but a Black kid gets 25 years for weed possession.” The superb keyboardist is using her art to bring some light to the world

and uplift the community. “I’m writing a symphony now called ‘Requiem for Sonless Mothers,’” she said. “I have my themes and my three movements, and Karen Briggs is going to help me with the string arrangements. She’s great at it. I also have a slide show I’m organizing now. I have a song called ‘Hands Up’— I wrote it five years ago. I have friends and family send me some pictures with their hands up. It’s going to be my contribution as an artist to chronicle the times.” The slide show, called “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot,” is on her social media platforms. Jhonson said her own experiences with racism within the industry also extend to sexism—the issues are intersectional. “I have more concerns with being underpaid as a woman than for the racial component. We have a problem with so many white executives. “They are signing rappers to their contracts if they keep making their nasty records that fit a certain stereotype. You know those

executives don’t want their girls half-naked in videos and their sons spreading extremely vulgar, sexist stuff, but they are using young Black rappers and monetizing them.” She paused as if fatigued by the thought. “I know artists who have said, ‘I have some really cool, clever rhymes,’ but they are told ‘No-go, put some curses with them.’ No doubt there’s an audience for that, but there are people like me, my mom and my daughter, who would listen to hip-hop if it had cool, smart lyrics and great beats. But some of this mess that degrades women? No thanks. Of course, everyone has to eat and pay the bills, so I understand the rappers’ decisions, but at the root, it’s the power structures that need to change.” Jhonson’s video for her song “Hands Up” can be viewed at https://youtu.be/vgytTvqupPE. For more information on Jhonson, visit https://gailjhonson.com.

continued on page 18

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Thoughts from saxophonist Eric Darius “The Black Lives Matter movement is something that has deeply affected me personally because I can relate to the social injustices and racial inequities that people of color are fighting for. As a Black man in a predominantly white-controlled music industry, I’ve always felt that I’ve had to work harder to prove myself and gain respect among those who are in a position of power. “Early on in my career, I was surrounded by people in the industry who belittled my visions and personal goals for myself, and told me that I needed to ‘know my place.’ I was made to feel powerless and that I would not succeed in the music business unless I abided by their rules and plans for my career. “After constantly feeling like I was swimming upstream, I decided to cut ties with those whom I felt were holding me back and preventing me from reaching my full




ric T oto: A

potential. I took a leap of faith and started navigating my career by making my own decisions and surrounding myself with people who truly believe in me and embrace me for who I am. “As a recording artist and songwriter, my music has always been a direct reflection of my feelings and life experiences. With the current state of our country, I feel like the new music I am writing has a renewed sense of purpose in terms of empowerment, self-reflection, inspiration and hope. “Music is a powerful vehicle that brings everyone together, and at this time, we need to come together more than ever to ensure racial equality in all genres of the music industry today and for future generations.” For more information on Darius, visit https://ericdarius.com/.

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Marcus Anderson By Ken Capobianco


jazz’s more dynamic entertainers. With 13 solo records to his credit, the versatile artist and former member of Prince’s New Power Generation horn section is a father of two daughters (Laila, 10, and Karson, 12). He’s also the proprietor of his own private coffee brand, AND Coffee. When asked about the current protests, Anderson expressed optimism about the possibility of seeing a real change

that will bring a better tomorrow for his children. “We are definitely at a turn, but how long that turn is going to take is tough to say. We also don’t know in what direction we are turning, but it’s happening,” he said by phone from his North Carolina home. “The change is not going to happen like turning a switch on toward illumination. If you turn a light on in a dark room, and find a mess, it’s going to take awhile to clean that mess up. Now we see what is happening. ‘Oh my God, what

a mess. OK, where do we start?’ Police brutality? Ourselves? Our neighbors or our co-workers? It all has to be handled at the same time but inch by inch. If the change doesn’t come, then you’ll see what has happened throughout history—the people taking things into their own hands.” He is encouraged by what he has seen happening over the past few years, which portends a more rapid evolution than expected. “For all the generations who lived through the years where racism was prevalent, continued on page 20

Photo: Miranda Jackson Photography

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well, for a lot of people that was part of their culture, so racism and prejudice became the culture. But that culture has drastically changed over the past five years. You see a change in attitude toward Black rights, gay rights, trans rights. So, I don’t think it’s going to take as long as 20 years for real change like before. People are becoming more conscious and aware of what they say and what they do.” Anderson, whose new funky album of original material, HERO, is one of 2020’s finer jazz albums, said his personal experiences might be different from most African Americans because he is a musician. But he still has experienced racial inequities

He added that he has experienced obstacles in the music industry, especially in the years he was trying to build his brand. “I’ve been doing what I do for years. I play saxophone, bass guitar, piano, flute, [and] I dance. I sing at all my shows, and I was often told, ‘I don’t think you have what we need for our festival.’ I’ve been told, ‘we have enough African American artists in our festival. We need more diversity.’” He took a moment to contemplate his words. “It confuses me. I’m bringing one of the best shows you’ve had at your festival, so how don’t I fit? After the education I got from Prince, having to play four-hours straight in a club and having colleagues tell me

didn’t understand why everyone can’t get along and people can’t be treated equally. We had told her about racism, but she never really experienced it, so it’s hard for her to fathom it. “After the interview, we were in the car and she said, ‘I don’t understand the bad apple syndrome. You mentioned you don’t believe all police officers are bad, and it’s just a few bad apples, but how can you have two or three bad officers in a group of 10, but you can’t have bad surgeons or pilots?’ She didn’t understand how surgeons can be held accountable and needed to be good but police officers aren’t. It’s a lot for her to grasp.”

“We think we are past those days, but we aren’t that far. What’s happening in 2020 to African Americans happened in 1960 and beyond. We’ve had three hangings of Black men in California recently. It’s not the past.” throughout his life. “This doesn’t affect me as a musician because I believe people in entertainment get special treatment, and it builds a false perception of reality and life sometimes, so perhaps a musician may not witness some of the discrimination and prejudice as much as other people. “Now, that’s not to say we don’t witness it as African Americans, but it’s slightly different. If I’m known as a successful saxophone player who owns successful businesses, my treatment from people is going to be different than an average African American who is not known. It’s sad to say, but that’s how it is. I will say that recently, I’ve noticed there’s a difference in how people greet each other now.”

I put on a great show, but then festivals tell me, if they are going to have me, they are only going to offer me half of what they are offering a white artist. I know what other artists get paid. We talk. It’s just not right.” Anderson, who recently took over Dave Koz’s social media platform to discuss race-relations at the request of the smooth jazz superstar, said he speaks to his daughters to give them a better perspective and context for what is happening. “I had a discussion with my oldest daughter, who is still trying to make sense of things. She doesn’t know how to process it just yet. I think I did three segments on Dave’s platform—and I had guests on throughout the day. I had my daughter come on. I asked her to explain how she felt. She said she just

The upbeat and talkative Anderson feels that white people who want to effect change should reflect, read about Black history, and learn to listen more. “People need to educate themselves. They can’t run from their past, where their ancestors may be involved. It might be uncomfortable to see pictures or film of police officers spraying African Americans with firehoses or committing acts of violence or photos of Emmett Till. “We think we are past those days, but we aren’t that far. What’s happening in 2020 to African Americans happened in 1960 and beyond. We’ve had three hangings of Black men in California recently. It’s not the past.” For more information on Anderson, visit https://www.marcusanderson.net.

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• After Hours


(Jazz Head Entertainment)

Celebrating 20 years since the release of his acclaimed album Raindrops in the Sun, versatile independent saxophonist Earnest Walker Jr. gets back in the groove big time with his highly anticipated album, whose title, IFATOBA, is as exotic, compelling and bold as the eclectic multi-faceted music itself. AvAilAble At: https://earnestwalkerjr.com, www.amazon.com, Apple Music, iTunes, www.spotify.com, www.cdbaby.com, and many more Website: https://earnestwalkerjr.com

When you’re not ready to call it a night, After Hours is the perfect nightcap. The debut CD from 64merlot features 12 new songs. The music is smooth, soothing and relaxing, yet also quite energetic and challenging, revealing the diverse edge and the skillful production approach. The release features an incredible array of different sounds and influences, from funk-driven slap bass parts to dreamy electric piano tones and cutting drums. The creative vision of this release is incredibly broad and refreshing. AvAilAble At: iTunes, www.cdbaby.com, www.amazon.com, and https://jazzheadentertainment.com Website: https://jazzheadentertainment.com


(Anderson Music) Marcus Anderson’s 13th album, HERO, features 13 original compositions, which is the quintessential soundtrack of our lives with a common thread of inspiration, perseverance, passion and resilience. Also serving as the soundtrack to his new venue, the musician superhero’s comic and motion graphic animation “The Creatives,” HERO takes the listener on a musical journey through themes of light and darkness and the quest for meaning in an often-chaotic world. Melding a wide range of musical styles with a natural grace, HERO evokes, but never imitates, the many legendary artists who have influenced Anderson’s compositions. AvAilAble At: iTunes, www.amazon.com, https://play.google. com/, www.apple.com/apple-music, www.spotify.com, and http://tidal.com Website: www.marcusanderson.net (where autographed CDs are available)

ISAAC EDWARDS • “Bird Rock” single

(Songs in My Pocket Music) “Bird Rock” is the latest single from saxophonist Isaac Edwards. The funky new single follows Edwards’ critically acclaimed album Begin Again from 2019. “Bird Rock” is guaranteed to keep your toes tapping and your head nodding. The single was mixed by hitmaker Darren Rahn and mastered by Steve Hall. AvAilAble At: iTunes, www.cdbaby.com, www.amazon.com, www.spotify.com, and other online music retailers Website: https://isaacedwardsmusic.com

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WE CAN DO BETTER Keynotes from top white artists


Photo: Roy Cox Photography Studios, Baltimore, Maryland

By Marcia Manna


justice, Grammy Award-winning pianist and composer Bob James sat in the silence of his lakefront home and pondered the trajectory of his life’s work. He had made spontaneous decisions throughout his long career, and he would do it again; this time, using social media. James compiled a list of more than 80 Black lives that mattered to him, and on June 8, in a heartfelt speech, he thanked each of the many jazz greats who enriched his career. The effort, to his surprise, attracted more than 400,000 views on his Facebook page. The post was shared more than 8,000 times and inspired more than 1,000 comments.

“I went with my gut,” James said from his home in Michigan. “I just wanted to do something to describe myself, and what it felt like to live almost more in the Black world than the white world throughout my whole career. I was trying to be personal, look at the camera and not make it seem too scripted or forced. I was by myself and didn’t have anyone to produce me. That intimidated me, but it also made me feel a different kind of power. I had complete control over it. I decided I wanted to be brave, and I hit send.” An internationally renowned musician who founded the contemporary jazz quartet Fourplay in 1991, James also is known for composing “Angela,” the theme song for the 1970s comedy television series “Taxi.”

James, an adventurous, technically proficient musician known for unique melodies and strong grooves, has collaborated with many jazz greats including Sarah Vaughan, David Sanborn and Earl Klugh. His work with Fourplay—which included Lee Ritenour on guitar, Nathan East on bass, Harvey Mason on drums, and, in later ensembles, guitarists Larry Carlton and the late Chuck Loeb—produced more than a dozen albums. In his Facebook post, James paid tribute to East, Mason and many of the Black vocalists featured on Fourplay recordings, among them, Anita Baker, Ruben Studdard, Patti Austin and bassist Esperanza Spalding. The multi-Grammy winner grew up in Marshall, a small Missouri town of fewer than 10,000 residents.

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His high school wasn’t integrated until his senior year, and even then, there was only one Black student in his graduating class. It wasn’t until James attended the University of Michigan that his interest in jazz became the driving force behind his career. “Some of my early interest in jazz was rebellion against my mother, who wanted me to practice too much,” James recalled. “There was too much discipline in the classical world. But also, I was falling in love with the sound of jazz and the feeling of it. I began to realize I could play on a level where the jazz musicians I was encountering were taking me seriously.” One of those musicians is fellow Michigander and bassist Ron Brooks. “It wasn’t an accident that I mentioned him first,” James said. “Ron was quite important to me— he’s playing bass on my first album, Bold Conceptions. Brooks lived in Ann Arbor when I was in college. He was the b assist in my first trio, and he was very much a part of the beginning of my career.” James, Brooks and drummer Bob Pozar competed as a trio and won “Finest Jazz Group of 1962” at the prestigious Notre Dame Collegiate Jazz Festival. The judges included Henry Mancini and Quincy Jones, who helped James get a recording contract. “Talk about lucky timing,” James said. “We basically went down there as a goof. We were playing avantgarde jazz at that time. We had no

expectation we would win, but Quincy loved it.” James became music director and accompanist for vocalist Sarah Vaughan from 1964-68, a time when he witnessed the best and worst of the American civil rights movement. “I guess the first shocking experience was when I was working with Sarah Vaughan,” James recalled. “I was treated more easily than she was, even with her fame.” Vaughan and the Bob James Trio experienced the best of times when they received an invitation to perform at the White House in 1964, the year that President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law. James made another spontaneous decision at the event, one that remains a lasting memory. “We performed in the East Room, and we were able to go to a formal dinner afterward,” James said. “The Royal Air Force Band was playing. We saw Johnson come walking toward us, and he asked Sarah to dance, which was a huge deal for her. I looked over and thought this is my big opportunity. I went over and asked Lady Bird to dance. I’ll never forget it. “ Throughout his career, James has accepted encouragement and inspiration from many Black artists, and last month, he felt compelled to let the world know how jazz, an original American art form created by Black lives, made him feel.

“They let me in when there was a lot of potential for reverse prejudice towards white musicians going into a Black art form,” James explained. “I felt that there was a different kind of purity in Black culture. They let me in because of the music. They let me in because I played from my heart. They heard it, felt it, and they weren’t going to just shut me out because I was white.” And, James is showing his immense respect for and support of them now. For more information on James, visit www.bobjames.com.

DAVE KOZ By Marcia Manna


responded to the Black Lives Matter movement, Grammy-nominated saxophonist Dave Koz thought about the impact of racism, and how he might be an instrument of change. “This is a time when we need to re-examine how we feel about this subject,” Koz said during a recent phone interview from his Los Angeles-area home. “I thought I had a good sense of this, but I needed to break it down completely—start from scratch and think about how continued on page 24

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Photo: Peter Morey

Dave Koz with Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first Black president I feel about the disadvantage Blacks have had to go through for years.” As a child, Koz learned to embrace diversity. He and his brother and sister grew up in a Jewish family, and his parents, who had a zest for international travel, encouraged their children to explore different cultures. “We grew up with curiosity as opposed to fear,” Koz said. “That one thing made all the difference in the world for us as adults. We have a genuine interest in how other people live. I’m grateful to my parents for that.” Throughout his career, Koz has collaborated with Black artists. He was a frequent guest on “The Arsenio Hall Show,” a session player for Natalie Cole, and his Christmas tours have included artists such as singer Oleta Adams and guitarist Jonathan Butler. He has helped to promote many Black instrumentalists on his radio shows, the nationally syndicated “The Dave Koz Radio Show” and his weekly “The Dave Koz Lounge” each Sunday on SiriusXM satellite

radio. And, he has felt great pride performing for the Black heroes in his life, namely Nelson Mandela and President Barack Obama. “I got the chance to meet Nelson Mandela in South Africa on the occasion of his 92nd birthday,” Koz enthused. “I was there for the Cape Town International Jazz Festival with Jonathan Butler and BeBe Winans. We were all invited to his birthday luncheon. I remember being ushered into the room where he was and getting to have a moment with him, and I remember the feeling of shaking his hand. There was an energy rushing through my system, almost like coming into contact with a higher being. How could he remain so pure and be such a happy man given what he had to endure? That’s about as good as it gets.” It got even better for Koz when, in 2015, he was officially invited to perform for Obama at the U.N. General Assembly in New York City.

“That was special,” Koz said. “I felt strongly about his ascension to the highest office in the land and the significance of it. He was very complimentary—he knew me and my music from WNUA, a radio station in Chicago he used to listen to. He was a fan of smooth jazz.” Despite the progress America has made, Koz wanted to examine civil rights issues beyond his personal experiences. After a lot of deliberation about how it might affect his career, Koz revealed that he was gay more than a decade ago. “Prejudice has been around for generations, but this situation is different,” Koz explained. “People don’t know you are gay by looking at you. This is an opportunity to look inside and re-examine our experiences and understand that we have had an upper hand. We have the benefit of white privilege.” Koz was inspired by the Share the Mic Now Campaign, an event initiated last month in which white female celebrities handed over their social media platforms to Black women to expand the reach of Black voices. Koz contacted sax player Marcus Anderson and invited him to share his experience as a Black man in America with Koz’s nearly 200,000 Facebook followers. “Marcus is a young father, 35 years old, with so much to say,” Koz said. “I called him and asked, ‘What do you think of this idea?’ He’s like, ‘Are you kidding me, you trust me like that?’ He posted for 24 hours, and, at the end of the day, I think my fans are his fans. It was a chance for us to all learn.” For more than a dozen years, Koz has hosted the Dave Koz & Friends at Sea full-ship charter, where there

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Both Koz and Anderson stressed that music has the power to elevate and unify audiences. “Two people can be diametrically opposed to each other, but if there is one song they both like, a bridge is created through the healing power of music,” Koz explained. “Maybe we need to look at what happens on jazz cruises and smooth jazz concerts and try and figure out why it works in that situation but not society as a whole.”

Photo: Lori Stoll

is great diversity among the musicians, crew and guests. The cruises sell out consistently for years in advance. “That is something I am incredibly proud to be a part of because, over the course of seven days, it’s almost a parallel universe,” Koz said. “Everybody—old, young, gay, straight, Black, white, everybody—is cool with each other. All races are respectful and welcoming. So, we know that it’s possible—it happens in life.”



people has dominated the airwaves in recent months, yet there are those who insist that racism is not the problem. Grammy-nominated saxophonist Richard Elliot, who has experienced unjust behavior firsthand, said that those acts of aggression need to be exposed for what they are. “Let me put it this way,” Elliot said. “During the civil rights movement of the 60s, racism was blatant and overt. The results of the movement show that there was progress.

While many are sickened by the pain and violence that has consumed the news of late, Koz sees the possibility for change and more tolerance. “It’s painful for our country,” Koz admitted. “But in a way, I’m grateful this has come up so we can examine and move forward with eyes, ears and hearts open.” For more information on Koz, including his cruises, visit www.davekoz.com.

But today, we also see a more insidious form of racism that’s cloaked in code, or rhetoric that elicits racial reactions while maintaining deniability. And, the worst part of it, to me, is you actually see people who think and say that we are past racism. I don’t know where that comes from, but to me, it’s a form of denial.” Elliot’s family moved from Scotland to Los Angeles when he was 3 years old. In elementary school, he understood at a young age that racism is a learned behavior. “I remember all sorts of stereotypical comments being said by people who didn’t know I was Jewish,” Elliot said. “There was questioning whether the Holocaust even happened or children saying ‘You are such a Jew,’ when referring to someone who was cheap. Obviously, I was dismayed as a young person; it’s a weird, helpless feeling that cuts into your being. I didn’t understand the venom. But now, looking back, I see it was conditioning. The fact that I was experiencing anti-Semitism from children I went to school with told me they were picking it up at home—it was being passed on by their parents.” Elliot described his own parents as progressive thinkers. “They were very open in terms of translating their own experience as Jews to other cultures and nationalities,” Elliot said. “They were sensitive to all cultures. I have an older sister and brother, and all three of us adopted the concept of being empathetic to humanity regardless of our culture or subculture.” Two records shaped the way Elliot plays his instrument, and, growing up, it was his sister who exposed him to the music that influenced his direction. “She had an eclectic collection of records, and once she showed me how to put records on a turntable without scratching them, that was it,” he recalled. continued on page 26

26 | SMOOTH JAZZ NEWS continued from page 25

“She let me go for it. That got me into music as a listener. I was 11 years old when I started playing saxophone. I found the radio station, and I remember hearing Grover Washington play a song called ‘Black Frost.’ It was on the same record as ‘Mr. Magic.’ To me, the vibe, the feel, it consumed me. Another record that captured my imagination was ‘Night in Tunisia’ by Dexter Gordon. The sound that came out of his instrument mesmerized me. I remember that I saw Dexter at Concerts by the Sea in Redondo Beach when I was 14. Those artists were my aha moments. I knew I wanted to learn more and play like that. The love affair started with those two artists.” In the 1970s, Elliot played with Motown favorites Smokey Robinson, the Four Tops, and the Temptations. And, in the 1980s, when Elliot was 22 years old, he was given the opportunity to join the ethnically diverse, soul-funk group

Tower of Power, which he referred to as a “horn player’s dream come true.” While touring, Elliot was exposed to many incidents of racism. “Even after experiencing it, the shock and dismay never went away,” he said. “It’s not anything that you get used to. All I knew is that I wanted to play music, I wanted to play R&B and jazz, both true American art forms created by Black lives.” Performing with Black musicians brought applause and recognition onstage, and Elliot described it as “being in a microcosm of humanity, doing what you love.” But traveling through America on a tour bus with his fellow musicians exposed Elliot to a different perspective. “We would stop at a truck stop, go into the store to buy munchies, and I would hear someone use the N-word,” Elliot recalled. “Not even

thinking twice, as if it’s no big deal. When you are in this insulated environment and not thinking on that level, the blatant hate grabs you and shakes you to your core. It always hits you the same way—it’s just this horrible, sinking feeling.” Elliot has since recorded more than 20 albums as a soloist, launched a record label and a software company, and he continues to collaborate with artists of all ethnicities. Hiding or ignoring the wounds of racism, Elliot believes, perpetuates the problem. “I think the bottom line is that what’s happening today is a continuation of the fight,” Elliot said. “We need to make changes and do better. The only way to end racism is that you must shine a bright light on it so that, hopefully, we become better.” For more information on Elliot, visit www.richardelliot.com.

Note from Smooth Jazz News During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have temporarily paused publication of the print edition of Smooth Jazz News, as well as paid subscriptions. However, we will post digital editions for you to read online for free. If you are a subscriber, you will not be charged during this period of non-publication of the print magazine, and your subscription expiration date will be extended accordingly when we resume print publication. We sincerely apologize to everyone for this temporary inconvenience. Meanwhile, our hearts go out to those affected, medically and financially, by this illness. And we loudly applaud all of the health care professionals, first responders, maintenance people, delivery drivers, truckers, store stockers, cashiers, mail carriers and all other essential workers who make it possible for the rest of us to shelter in place during this public health crisis. Please stay safe and be well.

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J U LY | A U G U S T


CASHMIRA’S STARGUIDE Cancer June 22 - July 22

Capricorn Dec. 22 - Jan. 19

Leo July 23 - Aug. 22

Aquarius Jan. 20 - Feb. 18

You have got a lot of high concept plans to accomplish for yourself. Your imagination is on fire. Take a moment to listen to others, and try to realistically attack your plan. Your chances of success will be much better.

Virgo Aug. 23 - Sept. 22

You may get some guff from a few people with your continuous help for others. Don’t let them steer you away from your true mission. Your life’s fulfillment depends upon how you treat others, so continue on your path.

Libra Sept. 23 - Oct. 22

You’ve got a bit of an exaggeration problem, and now is the perfect time to get this under control. You may ruin plans you have been counting on by not being clear about your real status. It can still work fine with the truth.

Scorpio Oct. 23 - Nov. 21

Life has been extra complicated lately, but at last you are free. All the paperwork is done, and now that you are untethered, you can take care of yourself without always considering others. Look forward to the plans you made long ago.

Sagittarius Nov. 22 - Dec. 21

People may think you are a super practical person who concentrates on getting jobs done, but they are not all familiar with your creative side. You have more to give than to just make plans, schedules and spreadsheets.


You are admired for your strength and conviction of purpose. Now is a good time to stick to your principles but incorporate some compromising into your relationships. This change could help your work relationships as well. Family issues have been complicated and nerve-wracking as of late, but the next couple of months bring a ray of sunshine, which will greatly help the whole situation. You will finally get some time off and stop being the umpire for family squabbles.

Pisces Feb. 19 - March 20

A business trip you had looked forward to has been canceled, but do not give up. Things around you will eventually change so you will be able to enjoy that time away. Make plans while you wait. It will help make the journey that much better.


Links you to updates and breaking news!

Aries March 21 - April 19

Someone close to you will seem to turn away now. Do not overreact by making decisions about ending the relationship. This person needs time to deal with some things and will need your support before you know it.

Taurus April 20 - May 20

You certainly have your own point of view and have no problem expressing yourself. Just remember to act ethically in your explanations so that others can understand you. Even so, remember no one can agree with you all the time.

Photo: David Hopley

You have certain friends who tend to lean on you often. This is certainly a great trait of friendship, but it is time to really look at what is being asked of you. It is not up to you to entirely direct another person’s life choices.


Gemini May 21 - June 21

You are feeling strong and confident now. Do not let your partner bring you down when you are expressing your feelings and concerns. Your thoughts and plans have value, which will be revealed, and, ultimately, appreciated.




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