Jazmin Ghent is an international smooth jazz and gospel recording artist as well as an accomplished music educator. She was awarded the prestigious 2019 “NAACP Image Award'' for Outstanding Jazz Album, “The Story of Jazz”. She was nominated for 2019 Smooth Jazz Network’s Best Artist of the Year and was voted 2017’s Best New Smooth Jazz Artist.
Jazmin is also an accomplished music educator. She taught music to students in grades K-5 for five (5) years. In 2020, Jazmin was invited by the US Embassy in Haiti to spend seven (7) days presenting music workshops to adults and children. She worked with musicians demonstrating the origin of jazz from standards to jazz of today. The week culminated with Jazmin headlining the International Jazz Festival in Port Au Prince, Haiti. She has also presented workshops to young musicians in Syracuse, NY; Long Island, NY; and Elmira, NY.
From the entertainment perspective, Jazmin has six (6) Top 5 Billboard singles: Kickin’ It Up, Stride, Amends, Work Wit It, Heat, and Compared to What. Her most successful hit to date is Kickin’ It Up, which was #1 on Billboard’s Smooth Jazz Chart (June 2, 2021). Stride, Amends, Heat and Compared to What remained on Billboard’s Smooth Jazz Airplay Chart for twenty (20) weeks+ and also was played in rotation by most smooth jazz stations… including Sirius XM Watercolors Channel for seven (7) months+. Jazmin has performed at various major festivals and venues throughout the country, in Europe and recently on the 2019 Dave Koz Cruise to Australia.
According to Art Good of Catalina Island’s Jazz Trax radio and festival, “… unknown Jazmin Ghent was one (1) of the BEST FINDS the festival has EVER uncovered. Obviously, she OUTSOLD ALL thirty (30) stars of smooth jazz in the Jazz Trax Store, selling more CDs than anyone. She had stage presence, a show and she can play!”
Jazmin received a bachelor’s degree from Florida State University and a master’s degree from Tennessee State University. She most recently received her PhD on August 10, 2023, from South Florida University. Her latest CD, “Forever Jaz” was released February 5, 2021.
Visit https://www.jazminghentmusic.com for more information.
Born and raised in Kansas City, KS, Julian Vaughn was primarily a drummer when he picked up the bass guitar. Vaughn developed his playing style while growing up in the church where his grandfather pastored until turning over the reins to Vaughn’s father. A few years later, he became good enough to start playing at concerts and live gospel recordings.
Vaughn launched his solo career in 2010 with his album The Purpose Project, which springboarded him into his jazz career. In 2012, he put out the album Breakthrough, featuring the single “On Your Feet,” which peaked at #1 on the Billboard Smooth Jazz singles chart. He later would release albums Limitless (2015), Bona Fide (2017), Supreme (2019), and Chapters of Love (2021). Vaughn racked up four (4) Billboard #1 hits between his albums and eight (8) #1’s overall as a feature on various artists’ songs. Vaughn has toured across the US, playing at some of the largest jazz festivals. In addition, he has performed abroad in places like Dubai, South African, Nigeria, Nairobi, Italy, Spain, and Germany. Vaughn takes pride in writing and producing almost all of his music, saying “I want to be known as a great writer and producer just as much as an artist.”
In 2020, Vaughn was the #2 Artist of the year and had the #2 and #17 Billboard songs of the year. “Afro Calypso” and “Afternoon Delight.” His latest recording catalog continues to grow, he hopes to continue to redefine the lead bassist role in the smooth jazz genre.
Visit https://julianvaughnmusic.com for more information.
Since being signed to the Trippin’ N’ Rhythm record label in 2009, Cindy Bradley has blossomed into a powerful and charismatic presence on radio and on the contemporary jazz festival circuit, with 8 #1 Billboard singles along the way. Cindy has performed everywhere from the Seabreeze Jazz Festival to the Dubai Jazz Fest. She even made a stop in Lexington for the Lexus Smooth Jazz Fest August 10, 2013, produced by the African American Forum, Inc. She won Best New Artist at the American Smooth Jazz Awards, Brass Player of the Year and Best New Artist at the Contemporary Jazz Awards and was named Debut Artist of the Year by the Catalina Island Jazz Trax Festival and Smooth Jazz News.
A native of Buffalo, NY, Cindy loves telling the story of how she became a trumpet player by accident in fourth grade: “I started playing the piano when I was six, but we had to choose a different instrument to be part of the band program. I forgot to bring my permission slip to class, so the teacher just had me randomly circle an instrument that I wanted to play. I picked the trumpet, which turned out to be a life and career defining fluke.” After earning a bachelor's degree in jazz studies and music education from Ithaca College, she went to the New England Conservatory to study for her master’s in jazz trumpet performance; at the conservatory, she studied with and was influenced by many jazz greats including John McNeil, Bob Brookmeyer, Jerry Bergonzi, George Russell, and Steve Lacy.
After earning her degrees, Cindy immediately headed to the New York City area and immersed herself in the vibrant jazz scene, discovering equal passions for straight ahead be-bob and contemporary jazz, as well as funk, Top 40, R&B and jazz fusion. Cindy has also applied her skills and background in a way to inspire future generations. She has conducted hundreds of jazz workshops at high school and community colleges all over the country and earned a master’s degree in educational leadership. Cindy continues to impress thousands of jazz loving adults, playing such renowned events as the Big Bear Lake Jazz Festival, Omaha’s Riverfront Jazz and Blues Festival, the Balcones Heights Jazz Festival in San Antonio, and the Seabreeze Jazz Festival.
Visit https://www.cindybradley.com for more information.
Sometimes it takes a potentially life altering even to make you stop and re-evaluate what is truly important to you. In March 2021, guitarist, composer, and arranger CHRIS STANDRING found himself in the emergency room after experiencing chest pains. Although there was some history of heart disease in his immediate family, he never dreamed that he was himself a candidate for a heart attack. He was just 60 years old, kept
trim, ate well, exercised, and never smoked. But he was lucky. He came through it with flying colors and a new appreciation for the simple things that make life worth living.
On his newest release, SIMPLE THINGS, Standring reflects on his recent experience and his new and intimate awareness of the fragility of life. Standring relates, “We have all heard cliches like ‘who knows what tomorrow may bring’ and ‘don’t forget to stop and smell the roses,’ but we usually don’t take those old aphorisms to heart. To suddenly come face to face with my own mortality made me think about what is really important to me and how I want to live out my third act. Ultimately the answer came down to just a few basic things – spending time with loved ones, being present in the moment, and doing things with joy. Indeed, the theme of this album is joy, positivity, hope, and, because I’m a sucker for a beautiful melody, a little sadness as well.”
Standring is one of the most prolific and successful artists on the contemporary urban jazz scene. SIMPLE THINGS is his 14TH CD as a leader and follows his 2021 release Wonderful World, of which critic Travis Rogers said, “Wonderful World propels Chris Standring’s reputation—indeed, fame—as a masterful guitar artist and savvy arranger. Standring’s ability to pare down standards and classics, while never losing the lush quality of the orchestra, is brilliant. Whether it is his composing, his arranging, or his performing, Chris Standring is deserving of careful attention.”
Standring, a native of England, has had thirteen (13) Billboard Top 10 singles and six (6) singles that reached number one on the chart. Although he spent his childhood on a farm, driving tractors and feeding sheep, he began studying classical guitar when he was just six (6) years old. He listened to a lot of West Coast American jazz growing up and became a serious jazz musician when he attended the London College of Music. Many of his fellow students were aspiring jazz musicians and hard-core, straight-ahead aficionados, and Standring soon found himself listening to the great bebop players and learning new approaches to harmony and rhythm.
Standring had visited the United States several times in the 1980s and loved the West Coast vibe. He moved to Los Angeles in 1991 and quickly became part of the local jazz scene, playing the top L.A. venues with A-list musicians. He soon caught the attention of many of the top music acts, and his contemporary guitar sound can be heard on recordings by Bebe and Cece Winans, Jody Watley and Rick Braun. He has also performed with Marc Antoine, Bob James, Richard Elliott, Peter White, Kirk Whalum, and Al Stewart.
Standring released his first album, Velvet, in 1998 on Instinct Records, a label out of New York City. A prolific composer, he has written or co-written over 100 compositions and produced a new album for a variety of labels every year or two (2). Standring is focused and intense about his work. He writes nearly every day and never married because he did not want any distractions. He says that “just 1% of my output is from inspiration and 99% is from dedication to my craft.”
Covid has not lightened Standring’s output or schedule. Besides working on SIMPLE THINGS, he has been producing music for other artists and will soon present additional artists on his label, Ultimate Vibe Recordings. Besides playing guitar and composing all the tunes on SIMPLE THINGS, Standring also plays keyboards and programmed various synthesizer sounds and drum loops. He is joined by some of the top names in jazz,
smooth jazz, funk, and R&B who live in Southern California, including his regular bandmates ANDRE BERRY on bass and CHRIS COLEMAN on drums. Also performing on the album are RODNEY LEE on keyboards, GARY MEEK on sax, and KEVIN AXT on bass.
Standring is no stranger to funk, and several compositions on the album were heavily influenced by Prince and Bootsy Collins. Standring explains, “I’m a big fan of Prince, who learned about funk studying the music of people like Bootsy Collins. I wrote the opening track, “Shadow of Doubt,” after hearing a particular bass line by Prince that I really liked and wondered what I could do with something similar. I also saw a YouTube video of Bootsy explaining his basic funk formula. The bass line he demonstrated is so funky that it inspired me to write something of my own. Of course, I had to thank him, which I did on “Thank You Bootsy.” “Face to Face” is another song that was influenced by Prince and Bootsy.”
Standring originally wrote “Change the World” for another artist, but he decided to keep the song for himself because it fit his style so well. He released this tune as a single, which reached #1 on Billboard. “A Thousand Words” is a darker tune that Standring wrote for an old friend who suffered from mental illness and recently ended her own life. Standring composed “Ain’t Nothin’ But A Thing” specifically to play in live shows. It features Rodney Lee on organ.
“The Gist of You” has a romantic yet funky, half-time feel. Standring built “No Two Ways About It” on a two-chord groove that he imbues with an infectious, toe-tapping feel. “Too Close for Comfort” refers to his health scare last year. Standring often uses the phrase “Don’t Get Me Started,” so he wrote a song with that title. The track features Gary Meek on tenor sax. Standring closes the album with “And the Show Goes On,” a mellow track with a lovely melody. As Standring says, “With all the world has been through the last couple of years—me included—the title says it all.”
Standring is a superb guitarist and composer with an innate feel for funky, bluesy jazz. For him, music should be emotionally authentic rather than an intellectual exercise or a demonstration of a musician’s proficiency. As Standring says, he is a sucker for a beautiful melody, which is quite apparent on SIMPLE THINGS, an album with a lot of heart.
– Holly Cooper/Mouthpiece Music.
Visit https://www.chrisstandring.com for more information.
Born on December 25th in Detroit, Michigan, Althea René began her musical journey at the tender age of four (4) years old. She studied classical music while attending Howard University. For more that ten (10) years she worked as a Wayne County Deputy Sheriff (in Detroit, MI) during the day and performed in jazz clubs at night. Today, she endorses the renowned hand-sculpted Altus Flutes as a full-time performing and recording artist.
Althea René gained musical inspiration from her father Dezie McCullers (one of Motown’s original Funk Brothers). She has since developed her creative style. Some regard her as a “master of her craft” and one of the world’s most exciting solo improvisational flutists. The multiplatinum and Grammy®-nominated saxophonist Najee playfully refers to her as the “Maceo of the flute”.
In May 2013, she released her hit CD titled “In the Flow”. Collaborating with Grammy® award winning producer Michael Broening, she co-wrote the title track that made history as the first flute featured single to be ranked “number one” on the Billboard and Smooth Jazz charts. This scorching hot single topped the charts for several weeks.
With a passionate mission to mentor women in the entertainment industry, Althea René authored an autobiography titled “Becoming Chocolate Barbie - a guide for professional women in the music business” in June 2018. The book was written in an interview format so that readers may easily use it as a reference resource. Everyone who aspires to a life in business can appreciate the insights that she shares.
Her plans for 2022 are substantial. Among her many performances scheduled throughout the year, Althea René is hosting her Second Annual South Central Jazz Fest on Saturday, October 15th. Althea René, saxophonist Marcus Anderson, and vocalist Tracey Hamlin will deliver an amazing evening of music from a historic military airplane hangar in beautiful San Antonio, Texas.
She will release a few recordings this year. “The Best of Soul-Jazz Flutist Althea René” features sixteen (16) of her most popular songs recorded between the years of 2000 and 2013. It reflects her evolution as a writer and performer over thirteen (13) years. Althea René is also releasing a new project titled “Pastel Leather” in the third quarter. The theme of the project is a particular duality of human personalities and behaviors. Sometimes we are forced to exhibit a soft, polite, and forgiving demeanor while maintaining our mental and physical toughness from within. It features a powerful lineup of guest artist live vibe master Warren Wolf, trumpeter Lin Rountree, producer/writer Demetrius “Krayon” Nabors and jazz fusion icon Jeff Lorber.
Althea René is the proud recipient of the 2021 Presidential Volunteer Service Award which honors individuals whose service positively impacts communities and encourages those around them to take action. She conducts flute masterclasses and workshops with various universities and music-based organizations. She is the co-founder of the non-profit arts organization Colors & Song. With a passion to educate, entertain, and inspire people with music and art. Colors & Song promotes academic excellence and social justice via a wide range of activities. The organization’s focus is to promote goodwill, civic, and social awareness in the community.
Visit https://www.althearene.com for more information.
Jeanette Harris was born and raised in California’s post-Gold Rush town of Fresno in the center of the San Joaquin Valley. Reared by her mother, Annette, and her church organist father Floyd Harris – both of deep spiritual faith and intense believers in the art of music – Jeanette and her older brother, Michael, received their love of God and family genetically. “When I was five (5), my father put a guitar in my hands,” Jeanette begins. “A year later, he switched me to piano with a private teacher. I didn’t like it. Reading treble and bass clefs was so overwhelming that I would cry, but it gave me a great jumpstart. One day while driving me to 4TH grade, Mom was playing a cassette by Grover Washington, Jr. I remember looking at the picture of his alto sax. It was beautiful and Grover made it look so hip. I felt it would be the perfect instrument for me.
Jeanette played saxophone and piano from grade school to high school where band teacher Steve Alcala also had her play in the Fresno City College jazz band even before she graduated from high school. She won numerous awards and accolades, which led to a scholarship to attend Berklee in Boston where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Performance. Back in Fresno, Jeanette recorded her first self-released CD, Here and There, grabbing brother Michael to play drums with Patrick Olvera on bass, and began building a following by regularly packing Mike’s Pub & Pizzeria. She recorded her official debut album Reflections followed by Smooth Holiday Greetings on her family’s J&M Records (Jeanette & Michael’s initials, Mom and Dad’s funds).
Citing her influences, Jeanette continues, “(Saxophonist) Richard Elliot brought some serious R&B groove at the time when smooth jazz really needed more of that funk vibe, especially his song ‘Corner Pocket.’ I just loved his production! As a composer, Stevie Wonder’s music touches the hearts of people with lyrics that have strong meanings, and beautiful chords and melodies. And (guitarist) Norman Brown is the one that inspired me to want to be a performer when my parents took me to see him for my very first concert at The Bastille in Hanford, CA. “He gave me chills!” After crossing paths with Brown on the road, Jeanette co-wrote a song with him that became the title track of her fourth CD, Saxified. Brown recorded the song on his Grammy® nominated CD, 2417, with a different title, “The Best is Yet to Come” featuring Gerald Albright. “To have Gerald playing a melody that I wrote is so amazing,” Jeanette shares.
Jeanette has played major events from The Coombs River Bend Ranch Festival to festivals in Japan and London. She has performed as a side musician with Howard Hewett and Deniece Williams and has opened shows for greats ranging from smooth Jazz stars Kirk Whalum, Najee and The Rippingtons to R&B stars Babyface, Phil Perry and KEM. “I got a standing ovation opening for KEM,” Jeanette beams. “He came out to meet me and get my CD. His people said he never does that! That let me know my music does crossover.” The most special person to come along in the course of Ms. Harris’ career thus far was singer/songwriter Teena Marie, who hired her unheard/unseen in a destiny-streaked leap of faith totally befitting Jeanette’s life and beliefs. “Her trumpet player saw me at the 2010 NAMM Show and asked me if I wanted to play with Teena for a concert… in London! I couldn’t believe it. I got four (4) hours of sleep that night studying her music then drove to LA for the audition. I had to pull off the freeway when Teena called me personally to get my passport information. The band tested my improvising skills on a funk song and a ballad – then I was in! Teena finally arrived, gave me a big hug and away we went. She featured me in her last concerts playing sax on ‘I’m a Sucker for Your Love’ and ‘Portuguese Love,’ and flute on ‘Deja Vu.’ She was truly a blessing in my life. Teena taught me how to be a strong female leader. I will miss her always.” Now with her fourth and finest CD Summer Rain bowing with her signature Summer Rain perfume to match, Jeanette Harris is unquestionable the next “Starchild of the Saxophone” touching hearts with every breath she takes.
Visit http://www.jeanetteharrisband.com for more information.
Lin Rountree aka The Soul-Trumpeter, is an accomplished recording artist, producer and live performer and is the next artist in line for the LEX Smooth Jazz Concert Series. With seven (7) solo projects, seventeen (17) Chart Topping Billboard singles [including three (3) #1 Hits] and numerous collaborations with some the industry’s top R&B/Contemporary Jazz artists to his credit he is fast becoming one (1) of the most renowned artists of his generation.
Lin began playing the trumpet in Alexandria, VA when he was just 11 years old and frequently attended music development programs at The Duke Ellington School for performing arts in Washington, D.C. Upon his graduation from High School, Lin was recruited into the Music program at Florida State University (FAMU) where he performed with the famed Marching 100 under the direction of William P. Foster and Dr. Julian White.
Shortly thereafter, Lin entered into the lifelong Brotherhood of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. (Lin credits his abilities to practice, prepare and perform to the training that he received at FAMU). Likewise, the school is also where he started to develop a deep appreciation for Jazz music and began studying some its mates and cites trumpeters: Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard, Lee Morgan, and Tom Browne as huge influences on both his playing and writing styles. After receiving his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from FAMU, he found his home in Detroit, MI where he formed a band and performed extensively throughout the region.
2004 saw the release of Lin’s debut album Groovetree on independent label BDK Records, which was met with international acclaim. After releasing one (1) more album under BDK: Sumthin’ Good and another Soul-Tree, The Soul-Jazz Experience (self-released)… all to rave reviews, he was sought after and signed to major label, Trippin’ N Rhythm Records, where he subsequently wrote and co-produced four (4) more projects: Serendipitous, SoulFunky, Stronger Still, and his current album, Fluid featuring two (2) #1 Billboard Hit Singles “Fluid” and “Release.”
“His hip vibe and soulful sound find a perfect fit here and is sure to assist in bringing the cool factor back to this genre… the future looks bright for contemporary jazz as we continue to attract fresh young artists of this caliber and Lin’s star will surely help light the way.” – Trippin/ N Rhythm Records.
Lin has been sought after to both perform and record with top Artists in various genres including: KEM, Dwele, Conya Doss, Tony Terry, Amp Fiddler, Deitrick Haddon, George Duke, Julian Vaughn, Mike Phillips, Tim Bowman, Nils, Darren Rahn, Nate Harasim, and U-Nam to name a few. In 2012, Line appeared in the hit film ‘Sparkle’ starring Whitney Houston, Jordin Sparks, Mike Epps, Celo Green, and Derek Luke boosting his international profile.
All in all, Soul-Jazz Trumpeter Lin Rountree and his music represent a new direction in instrumental soul. A polished songwriter, producer and recording artist, an outstanding live performer, a consummate professional, and a thankful musician, Rountree is a leader amongst a new generation of Soul-Jazz artists.
Visit http://www.linrountreemusic.com for more information.
Jessy J. is delighted to be the kick-off artist for the LEX Smooth Jazz Concert Series, which is designed to be an intimate evening of food, fellowship, and fantasy… wrapped around music.
Born Jessica Arellano in 1982 in Portland, OR and raised in southern California of Hispanic heritage, Jessy is grateful that her fans (specifically her Hispanic fans) have been inspired by her love of these musical roots. A jazz studies graduate from the University of Southern California, Jessy paved the way for her success with Michael Bublé and touring with Jessica Simpson, The Temptations and Michael Bolton.
Starting with the immediate #1 Billboard chart success of the title track from her debut album Tequila Moon, the powerhouse saxophonist cemented her rising stardom touring with contemporary jazz greats like Jeff Lorber, Gerald Albright, Euge Groove and Peter White. She can be seen regularly performing on the hit television competition shows “American Idol,” “The Voice” and “Dancing with the Stars,” and in more recent years has toured with Anita Baker, recorded with Robin Thicke, and contributed as composer/performer to the album of two members of Chance the Rapper’s band – the GRAMMY® nominated Intellexual album and the Juju Exchange’s Exchange.
In conjunction with the release of BLUE, Jessy has embarked on a U.S. tour throughout the spring and summer and couldn’t be more excited that LEX is one (1) of the stops on her tour. She will also be releasing California Christmas Vol. 2 for the 2022 holiday season.
Visit https://www.jessyj.com for more information.
Stay tuned as we will be releasing the date for the next concert of the LEX Smooth Jazz Concert Series between sets at the November 25, 2023 event.