‘Sassy’ CD soon to launch

  • Gary Washburn is releasing a new CD of original music on Oct. 7. (COURTESY PHOTO
    Gary Washburn is releasing a new CD of original music on Oct. 7. (COURTESY PHOTO

HONOKAA — Gary Washburn, the revered leader of the Honokaa Jazz Band and a respected musician in his own right, is releasing a new mix of original songs that celebrate the “old school” sound, performed by some of Hawaii’s best musicians. Titled “Sassy,” the new CD will be ready for download Oct. 7.

With a strong emphasis on instruments over electronics, the mix starts with bright jazz energy, slides into a sultry, 70s-style “Come Closer to My Side,” then bounces back with a barroom boogie woogie on “G’s Thang.” “Effloresce” is smooth jazz storytelling; “Fun” is a contemporary instrumental that soars.

Washburn is something of a musical hero on the Big Island, where he has directed the Honokaa Jazz Band for nearly 40 years. In that time, he has received a Claes Nobel Educator of Distinction award, been inducted into the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, named a Living Treasure in Hawaii and helped the school achieve an award from the Grammy Foundation in 2011.

Ten of the songs on “Sassy” are written by Washburn, who also plays piano on the CD. “Irresistible” was written by Maelan Abran, a former student of Washburn, and an award-winning singer-songwriter on the rise.

Featured musicians are “The Jazz Angel” Andrea Lindborg on trumpet and fluegelhorn, Bill Noble playing alto sax and flute, and Jesse Snyder on alto and baritone sax and clarinet, of the Grammy-nominated Hawaiian swing band Kahulanui; along with Doug Johnson playing vibes, Ricky Woodard on the flute, and vocalists Abran and Conrad Giminez.

The CD was engineered by Grammy-winner Charles Michael Brotman, and co-produced by William Bickelhaupt and Kent Washburn for EmKay Records.

“This is my third album release on EmKay Records, and is without a doubt my most commercial release to date,” said Washburn. “It’s focus is on the jazz and smooth R&B market.”

EmKay Records is distributed in association with Milan Entertainment, worldwide through ADA, the independent distribution arm of Warner Brothers (WEA). “Sassy” will be available from record stores, and online through Amazon.com, iTunes and all other online music providers on Oct. 7.

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