Zo! + Sy Smith @ The Jazz Café in London!! – March 6, 2011

I’m very excited to announce that I’ll be co-headlining the Jazz Café in London on March 6th, 2011 with one of my favorite people… the immensely talented Sy Smith. I’m really looking forward to making my Jazz Café debut as I have been told for years that it’s one of the historically rich spots to play in… aaaand my pulse rate spiked as I just typed that.

UK, it looks like I will now see you in January AND in March. Have some good food waiting for me please….!!

Student Quotables… Volume II

This is a continuation from the FIRST installment of student quotables… Just keep in mind, I can NOT make any of this up. Enjoy!

• One of the so-called tough persona students decided to get himself caught up in a situation where he was looking at catching an assault charge. While being questioned by the police in regards to naming who did it, he responds with the classic line…

“Now I ain’t no SNITCH… But uhhh…… All I’m sayin is……. Tony did it.”  I love it…

• After getting a “Soldier” tattoo on his forearm that was spelled “S-O-I-L-D-E-R,” one of the students defended himself with…

“That’s how we spell it in the STREETS!”

• Cultural Awareness…
“Maaan, you can’t be out here stealing, you’ve gotta get a job! Don’t you know it’s a reception out here?!”

• Music Appreciation… (directed to me)
“Man, you always playing the classics! Why don’t you play something new like 50 Cent’s “In Da Club?” …Word? This same kid told me that John Legend was old school… *shrug*

• On Tupac
“2Pac is still alive! I just saw him in a picture with Rihanna!”

• Geography Lesson
A student of mine walked into class with a pendant of Africa around his neck. He was not expecting me to quiz him about the continent. First, he told me that Africa was a “state”, to which I responded, “So who’s the governor of Africa then?”

After explaining to the boy that Africa was a continent and not a state, I asked him to name just ONE country in Africa… He responded with, “Peru”

Teacher: “If one side of the Earth is light, what is the other side?”
Student: “Heavy”

Teacher: “How many minutes are in a half hour?”
Student: “15”
Teacher: “So how many minutes are in an hour then?”
Student: “5?”

SoulBounce Names Zo! Their 2010 Producer Of the Year!

Source: SoulBounce · By Ivory

While here at the SB headquarters we don’t always see eye-to-eye in terms of music, one thing we do agree on is that 2010 was, indeed, the year of Lorenzo Ferguson better known to all as Zo!. Many of the Detroit-bred, D.C.-based multi-instrumentalist and producer’s melodies provided the soundtrack to our 2010. Let’s face it, he seemed to be everywhere this year. Zo! managed to hit us off with stellar production work nearly every season this year, making him easily the SoulBounce Honors 2010 Producer of the Year.

Zo! kicked things off in the spring, when his fellow Foreign Exchange Music labelmate YahZarah released her highly-anticipated album, The Ballad of Purple Saint James. He lent his production talents to her single “Cry Over You” featuring Phonte. The funky, upbeat track provided the perfect backdrop for YahZarah’s sassy rebound tale.

By the time the summer release of his own full-length FE Music debut, SunStorm, we were practically foaming at the mouth with anticipation of the musical delicacies our ears were about to feast on. And boy, did he not disappoint. Drawing comparisions to Stevie Wonder‘s Songs in the Key of Life, SunStorm served up a delicious composition of musicianship and artistry. As previously stated in our review of the album, “While some producers may stumble when their musical ambitions find them dabbling in different genres, Zo! expertly navigates vast musical terrain.” Nearly six months later, this album continues to amaze with his wide-range of talents, sprinkling in a dash of jazz here, a spoonful of broken beat there and a whole lotta fun, spirited soul and hip-hop ingredients in between.

In with the cool weather of the fall, came the equally-cool third group project, Authenticity, from The Foreign Exchange. While most production was still held-down by FE co-founder Nicolay, Zo!’s fingerprints still remained all over this album. Picking up where the group’s previous project, Leave It All Behind, left all, this album was melancholy and slightly-experimental, where LIAB was hopeful and soulful. Zo! even took a turn on the mic–albeit a talkbox mic–on “Don’t Wait.” Whether he was leading us through the highs of love or guiding us through the dreary days of heartbreak, Zo! consistently used his musical prowess to help bring the vivid emotions to life. Through his fingertips, we were able to feel sentiment just as clearly as we could hear it.

And to think, Zo! managed to deliver a crop of good music all while holding down a full-time gig as a music teacher in Washington, D.C. By showcasing us such a versatile range of musical portraits in 2010, we can only imagine what Zo! has in store for us in 2011. If next year is anything like this past one has been, then you better make room on your iPods for more phenemonal music.

SoulTracks Critics Choose ‘SunStorm’ As One Of “The Best Albums of 2010”

Source: SoulTracks.com

It is always fun at the end of each year to celebrate the best of that year. And 2010 had a lot of great music.

And so we’ve lassoed our music critics to each pick their favorites, which we’ve assembled below in alphabetical order (by artist name). These are uniformly releases with which you can’t go wrong — or so our critics say. Looking for a Christmas gift for a music lover? Then spend some time with these winners.

The toughest part of this is limiting the choices, but, imperfect as they are, here are the selections from Peggy Oliver (PO), Detrel Howell (DH), Reg Jones (RJ), Chris Rizik (CR), L. Michael Gipson (LMG), Melody Charles (MC), J Matthew Cobb (JMC) and Howard Dukes (HD). Also, each album cover is a link to either CD Baby or Amazon, where you can generally listen to clips from the disc or where you can purchase it.

We know these picks will have SoulTrackers talking. So be sure to comment below to let us know what we did right and what we missed!

Read more: The Best Albums of 2010 – Our Critics Picks! | SoulTracks – Soul Music Biographies, News and Reviews

TGRIOnline.com reviews N’Dambi and Zo! Dec. 10th Show at Black Cat, Washington DC

Source: True Genius Requires Insanity · By Marcus Dowling

On paper, a night featuring heralded underground soul songstress N’Dambi and local DC cause celebre with national trending aspirations Zo! (government name Lorenzo Ferguson) sounds like a recipe for success. The two artists represent the twin hopes for traditional rhythm and blues style in the 21st century. N’Dambi, a former backup singer for Erykah Badu, carries forth the Nona Hendryx meets Nina Simone style artistry of her mentor, music as art, art as music, a funky melange of rock and soul. Zo!, alongside his Foreign Exchange Records supported “Sunstorm All Stars” supporting cast is a producer, composer and songwriter par excellence, a little bit of Isaac Hayes, a little bit of Smokey Robinson, with a spoonful of Ramsey Lewis tossed in for good measure, a feel good sultry blend of adult contemporary music. He’s not concerned with popping bottles, he’s concerned with getting deeper into the heart of the matter. However, on this night in Washington, DC, what was drawn up on paper, failed to materialize, as a night with the best of intentions fell short of their destination.

This is not to say that it was a night that was without spellbinding performances. Zo and his Sunstorm All Stars are the best live act in soul music today. Having witnessed their live show twice this year, it’s easily the best ticket in the genre. It has everything you’d expect from the more mainstream side of R & B, just not wrapped in a broadcloth of tawdry behavior. This is classic music by extremely talented musicians who know what that means. Lead single from Zo’s latest album Sunstorm, “This Could Be The Night” is a sensual jam with a George Benson swing, meaning that for more modern ears, it recalls Montell Jordan’s “Get It On Tonight,” in that it’s grown and sexy without being debased. The set features the ever dapper Ferguson behind a dual decker keyboard and organ, a consummate band leader, leading his charges through a tightly produced set that highlights exquisite artistry. Though Monica Blaire was not present, Deborah Bond’s take on the 11 minute suite “Make Love To Me” was absolutely magical. The song is a moody jazz winner, allowing for a virtuoso female vocalist to improvise and reach an orgasmic peak under the blanket of restrained elegance. If not aware, it is the year’s finest soul performance, and absolutely worthy of consideration for achievement.

This is not to say that the performance by the Grammy nominated N’Dambi was by any means without merit. She’s a toned statuesque rock star with great presence and a glorious red dyed afro/mohawk. Her album Pink Elephant is a heartfelt, earnest and well meaning melancholy burner of a soul record. Owing a great deal more to a bohemian aesthetic than the uptown swing of Ferguson, the performance was not entirely well received by a crowd who had been inspired to move, groove, get turned on and turned out by the Sunstorm All-Stars. If she followed a more muted performer, the likelihood of an entire room being captivated by her would have occurred, however this was not the case. Opener “L.I.E.,” a tale of a cheating male who travels to his lady loves along both ends of the thoroughfare is excellent, as was the single most responsible for Pink Elephant’s success, “Can’t Hardly Wait.” In abiding by a performance standard that involves a loose band performance, and an insistence upon intimate discussion, for the N’Dambi loyalist, it was an ideal environment. However, if looking to be blown away by a performance, that would appear to not be her strongest suit as a live artist. Adopting some of the more captivating aspects of the live performance of her mentor Ms. Badu is an absolute necessity.

Overall, this was a phenomenal evening of diverse styles of soul music. However, in slotting the honed and crafted Sunstorm All-Stars in front of the thinking woman’s sensual bohemain jam session of N’Dambi, the night was a study in styles instead of a fully realized total night of  complete entertainment.

Zo! + N’Dambi @ The Black Cat in Washington D.C. – Friday, December 10th

On Friday December 10th, I’ll be presenting my latest release, SunStorm LIVE along with my band, vocalists Kenny Wesley, Deborah Bond, and my brovah from anothah, Phonte. This will take place at the Black Cat in Washington D.C. opening for Dallas-bred vocalist, N’Dambi. I hope to see a lot of you all there as this will be a helluva show…!!

The Foreign Exchange Overseas Tour Schedule

Well, I’m happy to announce that not only will I be visiting Europe for the first time in my life, but I’ll be over there playing keys with The Foreign Exchange. The run begins in London, then continues to Amsterdam, Paris, Cologne, while ending in London as well. Check the dates and maybe I’ll see you at a show. In the meantime, I’ll be purchasing a brand new memory card for my camera as I’ll be doing nothing but snapping pictures and getting ready to try all types of FOOD. YES Lawd!!

Thu Jan 6, 2011 at 7:00 PM
soulBEAUTIFUL inc presents · Cargo, London UK
The Foreign Exchange (Phonte + Nicolay) with live band
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Fri Jan 7, 2011 at 7:30 PM
Holland’s Got Soul · Paradiso, Amsterdam NL
The Foreign Exchange (Phonte + Nicolay) with live band
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Sat Jan 8, 2011 at 7:00 PM
Free Your Funk presents · La Bellevilloise, Paris FR
The Foreign Exchange (Phonte + Nicolay) with live band
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Sun Jan 9, 2011 at 7:00 PM
Club Bahnhof Ehrenfeld, Koln DE
The Foreign Exchange (Phonte + Nicolay) with live band
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Wed Jan 12, 2011 at 7:00 PM
soulBEAUTIFUL inc presents · Cargo, London UK
The Foreign Exchange (Phonte + Nicolay) with live band
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