Color and Passion •••
Blake Aaron, guitarist

We are all in a place where everything is changing around us without knowing what’s coming next. And the change is being powered by the pandemic virus, Covid-19. Not surprisingly, contemporary musicians are all coming up with their own antidote with their music. Joining the rescue brigade is guitaritst Aaron Blake with his hit song, “Daylight.” Using a tropical soca rhythm and infused with bright energy and joy, “Daylight” is Mr. Blake’s newest single moving up the Billboard chart from his forthcoming Color and Passion, his sixth album on Innervision Records.


This latest release is the artist’s first collection since Soul Stories, and like that outing, half of the new album is made up of hit singles that were released over the last few years along with some newly completed cuts. Two singles from Color and Passion, the melodically rich “Fall For You” and “Groovers and Shakers,” a duet written and produced with hitmaking saxophonist Darren Rahn, went No. 1 on the Billboard chart. Invigorating and illuminated by a horn section, “Vivid” climbed into Billboard’s top 10 as did “Drive,” another propulsive collaboration with Mr. Rahn that was the No. 1 song of 2019 on the Radiowave chart.

In addition to featuring Mr. Rahn, Mr. Blake spotlights several more Billboard chart-toppers on Color and Passion. He wrote the exhilarating “Sunday Strut” with guitarist Adam Hawley, a song graced by urban-jazz icon Najee on tenor and soprano saxophones. The album closes with a Latin percussive treatment of Stevie Wonder’s anthemic classic “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing” that includes Kim Scott’s impassioned flute engaging in a dalliance with Mr. Blake’s fiery electric guitar.

Also appearing on the album are bassists Darryl Williams, Hussain Jiffry and Mel Brown; drummers Tony Moore and Eric Valentine; keyboardists-pianists Rob Mullins, Tateng Katindig and Mike Whittaker; horn players and arrangers David Mann, Lee Thornburg and Scott Martin; and strings arranger Craig Sharmat.


Ricardo Bacelar: Live in Rio (Ao Vivo No Rio) •••
Ricardo Bacelar, pianist

The dramatic and perilous path of Covid-19 is now everywhere from sunrise to sunset. Sweeping across Brazil, the virus was more like a plague. It was during this period that the jazz pianist, Ricardo Bacelar, decided to release a version of Milton Nascimento’s classic “Nothing Will Be As It Was (Nada Sera Como Antes)” as the first single from Live in Rio. It is presented as a duet sung in Portuguese by Mr. Bacelar and Brazilian vocalist-pianist Delia Fischer. Recorded during a 2018 concert held at The Blue Note in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Mr. Bacelar and his five-piece band harness the unique energy, power, warmth and spontaneity that can only be experienced in a live concert setting. The 11-song Live in Rio set list includes tunes penned by Brazilian icons Milton Nascimento, Tom Jobim, Gilberto Gil and Flora Purim along with American jazz greats Benny Golson, Horace Silver, Pat Metheny and Chick Corea. The album also contains an original composition by Mr.  Bacelar and Cesar Lemos (Ricky Martin, Paulina Rubio) titled “Sernambetiba, 1992.”


Mr. Bacelar’s band on Live in Rio consists of guitarist João Castilho, saxophonist-flutist Danilo Sina, double bassist Alexandre Katatau, drummer Renato Endrigo and percussionist André Siqueira. The album, which is only available digitally, can be purchased at Amazon.