Suite 28 Records Proudly Presents
Blair Big Band - Such Sweet Thunder
“Such Sweet Thunder” is the swinging and creative debut of the Blair Big Band – the big band from Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN.
Built on the tradition of classic big band jazz, “Such Sweet Thunder” offers a fresh look at some jazz standards and a peek at what the future of the music might be. The band consists of students from Blair plus some of Nashville’s veteran players. But this is no typical college lab band – they swing and blend together with the assurance of a tight, well-traveled working orchestra. “Sorry Not Sorry” kicks off the album with a moody electric piano and wah-wah trumpet setting the stage for electric guitar solo. Standards such as “Such Sweet Thunder” and “The Very Thought of You” get creative updates. Nashville legend pianist Beegie Adair guests on a beautifully executed arrangement of the latter tune, giving fresh life to an old chestnut with nuanced harmony and exquisite shading. The southern tinged “Atchafalaya” reminds one of the deep south roots of jazz with its gospel tinged sound, ending with a sharp interchange between electric guitar and horns. A kicking bass solo sets the stage for Christina Watson singing “Cry Me A River”, the band building to a powerful climax. The music on “Such Sweet Thunder” makes a strong case for the bright future of large ensemble jazz.
Reta Watkins - That Christmas Feeling
Reta Watkins, a lifelong suburban Philadelphia girl, is the youngest of five children and only daughter in a house full of musicians. When asked how long she’s been singing, she states, “I think I came out of the womb, singing!” She recorded her first 45 record at the age of 6. Her personal musical journey has taken many turns…churches, performances on local & Canadian TV, national high school vocal competitions, national tours with her college vocal group, worship leading, vocal coaching for aspiring young artists and session work on various projects in Nashville.
From her early childhood years, the journey began with her family traveling extensively throughout the U.S. and overseas as ‘music missionaries’, performing in a diversity of venues. The family band was lead by Reta’s father who was an outstanding Italian tenor born in 1932 during the jazz/big band era. These musical influences instilled in her a deep passion for this genre of music. So why a Christmas record? Here’s Reta in her own words:
“Christmas was a big deal in our house. Growing up in the Northeast, we experienced a lot of white Christmases, with artists like Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole providing the soundtracks for that magical season. With the joys and family traditions of the season, that Christmas feeling has always remained deep in my heart.”
“I recorded many songs and albums with my family through the years, and my dad and I had always toyed with the idea of doing a holiday record together. Since his passing 10 years ago, the longing to record that quintessential classic Christmas record as a tribute to him became the driving factor to see this dream come to fruition.”
Jonathan Sargent- Little Cathedrals
Born in Chicago, Jonathan Sargent began his musical studies at the age of five with celebrated classical guitarist Irene Lorence. After graduating from Columbia University in New York City, he was granted a full scholarship on the classical guitar in Washington, D.C. with Sophocles Papas (Andres Segovia's emissary in the U.S.) He continued with graduate studies in musicology, theory and composition with Jose de Azpiazu at the University of Geneva in Switzerland.
Jonathan completed his formal guitar education with performances at the master classes of Alirio Diaz (Banff, Alberta, Canada), Angel Romero (New York City) and Musica de Compostela (Santiago de Compostela, Spain- founded by Andres Segovia).
Jonathan has toured throughout Europe, South America and parts of Asia. He has composed and arranged for Warner Brothers, Sony and Word Records and serves as President of Union Street Records.
Little Cathedrals was composed, arranged and recorded in Franklin, TN, where Jonathan resides.
Jean Watson- Wonder
Born into a musical family, Jean Watson's classical training began when she was still a young child. Early on, she displayed an affinity for the violin, but as time passed she became equally recognized for her wistful, ethereal vocals. As an adult, music was set aside for Watson to focus on her responsibilities as a wife and mother. Her marriage ended in divorce and she found herself in a time of deep depression and hopelessness. At her lowest point, she cried out to God. She experienced a remarkable breakthrough when her landlord gave her rent money back and said she needed to record an album. The rest, as they say, is history.
Watson can be heard worldwide on UCB Radio Ireland where she hosts a daily inspirational radio program, Jean Watson, which she records from her Michigan home studio. Watson has logged thousands of miles traveling the U.S. and the world to perform in churches, prisons, coffee houses, homeless shelters and concert halls. When she is not on the road, she plays violin in the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra.
Ilonka-To Be Loved
From her start as a child pop star in South Africa, Ilonka Deaton’s life has had many twists and turns. On August 26, that journey comes to a joyful, yet reflective fruition with the release of her new album To Be Loved on Suite 28 Records.
"This album is a personal journey that paints the picture of my story. Every song carefully selected and those written brings forth the beauty of the love I have in my heart," commented Deaton.
ThunderSOUL Orchestra, an offshoot of alumni from the Kashmere Stage Band which still exist today, chose to title their new release “528-0728” because this was Prof’s home phone number. As teenagers, members of the Kashmere Stage Band would call Prof to get answers for personal concerns; to which he would always give sound advice without a prejudice ear.
Nearly 40 years later, alumni of the Kashmere Stage Band reunited to play a tribute concert for their former teacher and dynamic bandleader. The group rehearsed in the very same room where they practiced as teenagers and performed for the current student body at the very school where they made history decades earlier.
The Union of Sinners & Saints
The Union of Sinners & Saints features members of Petra, and Whiteheart, two of the best-selling Christian rock bands of all time.
The project features ten new compositions and updated versions of Petra’s Beyond Belief and Whiteheart’s Independence Day.
Members of The Union of Sinners & Saints have collectively generated more than 25 # 1 songs and earned more than 15 Grammy® and 40 Dove nominations and awards. The project also features new artist Jason Fowler on guitar and vocals.
The self-titled release was produced and arranged by Billy Smiley for Cul De Sac Records & Suite 28 C Records.
Dogs of Peace
In 1996, Gordon Kennedy and Jimmie Sloas joined together to form the band Dogs of Peace. Sloas and Kennedy already had successful careers in the industry: Sloas as a studio musician, artist (The Imperials), and producer (PFR, Switchfoot), and Kennedy as a studio musician and songwriter, raising his visibility with the worldwide Eric Clapton hit “Change The World”. Their debut album was released in 1996 on Sparrow Records / EMI. John Hammond and Blair Masters, both with successful careers as studio musicians, came on board to round out the band. They then added producer/ engineer Jeff Balding to complete the production team to record their debut album, which was released in 1996 on Sparrow Records / EMI.
Their debut album Speak became a mainstay in the music playlist of many devoted followers who still have it on their playlist. For some, it was a trend setting album, which influenced artists and musicians around the world. Since its release, many have reached out to the band and asked, “when there would be a follow up to Speak? Feeding on that inspiration and encouragement from fans, the original band members came together with Jeff Balding to embark on a follow up to their debut album. Heel took almost three years to be written, recorded, and mixed. What makes this music so special is that it was created on their own terms without any compromise, and the result is their sophomore album, Heel.
A classically trained pianist, Caudill’s influences range widely from Frederic Chopin to Ricky Skaggs and from Bruce Hornsby to Yanni. Tree of Life is evidence of Caudill’s diverse musical background as the album travels through many musical eras in its eleven tracks. Of track two, Around the World, the composer clarifies; “I am a fan and student of musicians from all styles and backgrounds. In the process of recording a song that came to me naturally, I realized it contained elements from artists whose musical backgrounds are as diverse as their geographical backgrounds. While the piano track itself draws from Chopin etudes, the rhythm tracks feature ostinatos similar to what one might hear from the Pat Metheny Group. Melodically, there are pieces of Yanni, accompanied by textures I enjoy from today’s pop music. It was very gratifying to see musical characteristics from my personal heroes make their way into my own music.”
Internationally acclaimed soprano, Alyson Cambridge, takes a step away from the opera stage and classical repertoire that has defined her career thus far for this album, and showcases her full range of vocal talents, never before heard on recording…that is, until now!
Alyson has over a decade of success on the world’s leading opera houses and concert stages – The Metropolitan Opera, Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Washington National Opera, Los Angeles Opera, San Diego Opera, London’s Royal Albert Hall, Deutsche Oper Berlin and Vienna Konzerthaus among them. Praised for her “powerful, clear voice” (The New York Times), “sensual, smoky and revelatory” performances (Opera News), and hailed as “radiant, vocally assured, dramatically subtle and compelling and artistically imaginative” (Washington Post), Alyson has made the operatic heroines of Puccini, Verdi and Mozart her specialty – La Boheme’s Mimi one of her signature and most often performed roles. Her award-winning and heralded performances in Kern and Hammerstein’s Show Boat, Gershwin’s Blue Monday and Porgy and Bess have served to highlight her unique ability to simultaneously shine in the jazz, musical theater and crossover repertoire.