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Thom Rotella


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When Thom Rotella started recording his first solo album in the mid-Eighties, he was simply looking for a creative outlet apart from his busy career as a session player and jingle writer. In fact, the guitarist was completely unaware of the emerging New Adult Contemporary radio format that would soon make him one of its core artists, with his three recordings for DMP—The Thom Rotella Band (1987), Home Again (1989) and Without Words (1990)-topping play lists and sales charts across the country. These days, the terminology for his blend of melodic jazz, funk and soul is “smooth jazz,” and Rotella is once again at the top of his game with the extraordinary radio and retail successes of How My Heart Beats (1995) and Can’t Stop (1997).

Just as his recordings have been well received both critically and commercially over the years, Rotella’s live show has become one of smooth jazz’s most exciting and dynamic attractions. In 1998, Rotella and his core band — keyboardist Chris Rhyne, bassist Vail Johnson, saxman Michael Lington, drummer Land Richards and percussionist Arno Lucas — played some of the best attended shows and festivals in the genre: radio station festival celebrations for The Oasis in Dallas, KIFM in San Diego and Santa Rosa’s KJZY; the Newport Beach Jazz Festival, and the 94.7 The Wave stage at Taste of Orange County, among others.


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