Bickley Rivera
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Bickley Rivera

Tampa, Florida, United States | INDIE

Tampa, Florida, United States | INDIE
Band Jazz Adult Contemporary

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"Smooth Jazz Therapy loves Bickley's Chillin'"

Time was when the sunshine filled sounds of the steel pan drums were reserved for the calypso rhythms of the Caribbean. Well that was then but this is now and with her brand new release, ‘Chillin After Five’, steel pan player Bickley Rivera is all set to add a new dimension to this distinctive instrument. With a brand of music that she describes as ‘Nujazz & Chillout’, but which in reality is where smooth jazz meets chill, she has come up with a great collection of eleven original compositions and one fabulous cover that overall cannot fail to get her noticed.

Bickley Rivera began her recording career in 1985 and moved into the Latin and Caribbean genre in 1992 when, with her husband Nelson, she formed the group Cuba Libre. Now, in collaboration with producer, guitarist and co-writer Greg Minnick, she is using ‘Chillin After Five’ to reveal that the steel pan has more to offer than the island vibes with which it is traditionally associated. Featured performances from international recording artists Praful, Magrus Borges and Ed Calle all add to the quality and the CD opens with the mid tempo title cut that shows off the feeling Bickley has for chilled out yet edgy contemporary jazz. Here she features on both steel pans and backing vocals while the playing of Richard Brookins on flute serves to endow the entirely piece with a delicious velvety quality.

‘Sending My Love’ is possibly the most overtly Caribbean offering on the album but, given its superb rhythm and melody, is none the worse for that. The CD’s only cover finds Bickley doing a terrific ‘smooth jazz meets chill’ version of the Minnie Ripperton classic ‘Lovin You’ and the first track to be offered up for radio play is ‘Groovin in Rio’. Its sunshine filled Latin groove owes much to handsome flute from Paul Messina, Bickley’s steel pans and great guitar from Greg Minnick while the hypnotic chill beat of ‘Step into my Lounge’ moves closer to what lies at the heart of this intriguing project.

In fact once into chill mode ‘Chillin After Five’ stays firmly there and with tunes such as ‘In The Night’ and the turned down yet claustrophobic ‘Caress’ Bickley captures the essence of what chill is all about. In similar vein the cavernously deep ‘Engage in the Universe’ demonstrates how well Bickley understands the genre yet, in terms of deep chill, there is nothing to equal the stunning ‘Transformation’. Bickley’s sparse vocals are again on the money while the steel pans create a mood that is both sublime and trance like.

Elsewhere, the jazz chill motif is reinforced by ‘Take Me Away’ where a smooth steel pan melody is spliced with an intense beat and when Ed Calle steps up on sax for ‘Dream of Ibiza’ he helps evoke the aura of this famed Iberian island. It is a clear Smooth Jazz Therapy favourite and another is ‘Pan Funk’ which puts Bickley firmly back into smooth jazz territory. This sizzling number includes wonderful sax and flute from German born and Holland based Praful who is currently (and paradoxically) making quite a name for himself on the chill scene.

For more on Bickley Rivera go to www.chillinafterfive.com

May 05, 2010 in CD Reviews | Permalink - Smooth Jazz Therapy


"Bickley Rivera's Chillin' After Five"

Chilled out fresh jazzy steelpan and sexy interludes with soothing vocals and accents of saxophone, flute and guitar are flavors of Bickley Rivera’s Nujazz music. Her music has said to cross the genre borders of historical island to smooth jazz, chill, electronic, ambient and lounge music. Performing in a number of pop and tropical bands as keyboardist and singer, she transitioned to Tenor Steel Pan to develop a new-style of music called TropJazz. She has released 8 CDs under various musical groups, but all related to World & Caribbean influences. Recently she crossed over with her new TropJazz-style to release album “Chillin’ After Five” with Levelblu Records. The album combines efforts of international-recording artists Praful, Ed Calle, Magrus Borges and others around the globe. Bickley’s music is noted as “ground-breaking” and something “no other steelpan musician is doing” as well as “magnetic magic”. Her “Chillin’ After Five” album is airing and selling in over 50 countries worldwide. She will be touring for the album in the fall. - Smooth Jazz Europe (Patrick Van Wiele)


"Bickley's Seductive Chillin'"

When you think of steelpan drum music, you might not be thinking of a sleek smooth jazz sound. But that is just what an album I heard recently had. The album has sleek smooth jazz songs that are enhanced by too cool steelpan drum music. This music has the current buzzword styling title of Nu-Jazz.

The title of the album is Chillin’ After Five. The artist behind the album is Tampa, Florida based steelpan drummer Bickley Rivera. Not only does she play the steelpan on the album, Bickley also provides some sultry, sexy vocals.

Helping out on the album is some pretty extraordinary talent. There is international sax and flute player Praful. He provides soprano sax and flute on a song on the album. Also helping out on tenor sax for a song is Ed Calle. On that same song Magnus Borges plays the caxixi, pandarao and Amazon drums. Richard Brookins plays flute on a song and Paul Messina on a different one. And Paul Bozzi is on congas and percussion for another. Bass is covered on two of the songs by Mark Harris. Nelson Rivera played bass on one song and provided supporting vocals on two others.

Greg Minnick co-produced the album with Bickley. He also played guitar on the album. The album is being released on the LevelBlu Records label, which Minnick owns.

As for the vocals on the album, I already mentioned Bickley’s and Nelson Rivera. Bickley is also assisted by the wonderful vocals of Dawn Basham and Kendall Dees. A wonderful vocalist I reviewed a few years back also makes an appearance on the album. Her name is Robin Avery.

All of the songs were either written by Bickley or co-written by her and Greg Minnick. That is all except one very special and seductive cover.

First up is the title track, Chillin’ After Five. It is a slick, seductive piece with cool steelpan, tough flute and sultry harmonizing vocals by Dawn Basham and Bickley.

Going for a bit of samba styling, the next song is Groovin’ In Rio. It has a nice light beat and some decent backing vocals. The congas and flute music in the song are an added bonus.

Kicking it to a slightly tighter groove is Pan Funk. With the sax and guitar work the song reminded me of something The Rippingtons might do.

Slowing things down a bit is Sending My Love. Nice sultry vocals by Bickley and Kendall Dees permeate this song that features great steelpan music.

A slight Spanish touch can be heard in Dreams of Ibiza, especially in the guitar and sax music.

The one cover on the album is of Minnie Riperton’s Lovin’ You. The main emphasis on this rendition is the music, but the vocals are very sultry and seductive. It is one of the best covers I’ve heard of this song.

Step Into My Lounge is a light, moderate tempo jazz piece.

Transformation has a tight steelpan sound with a light groove built in behind it.

Take Me Away features Robin Avery on vocals with Bickley. Sweet, saucy, sultry and ultra seductive are the vocals that move in and out of this great light groove song.

Caress is another song that has ultra seductive vocalization in front of light groove music. The steelpan here is nice and easy.

Then there is Engage In The Universe. It has more of an other worldly sound, kind of like you’d find in one of Will Ackerman’s Windam Hill albums.

And the last song on the album also might fall into that other world music sound. It is seductive with a touch of whispery clouds and angels. The title of the song is In The Night.

Bickley Rivera is a great steelpan drummer. I hadn’t heard the steelpan as the main instrument in a jazz album before, so this made for a unique listening experience. With the addition of top tiered musicians and vocals by Bickley, Dawn Basham, Kendall Dees and Robin Avery this is a very sultry and seductive album. - Bruce Von Stiers


"Radio DJ in Greece follows Bickley"

"Your music is incredible and possibly a phenomenon. I
already play one of your songs on our station here in Greece and can not wait for you to finish it.
"
Kostas Bagiartakis Drs Irakleio, Radio Broadcaster at D.R.S. Fm 95, Heraklion, Greece - Kostas Bagiartakis, D.R.S. Fm 95


"Love the Music at WRCH 100.5FM"

"I'm addicted to the new song... I have it playing continuously in my office - and everyone is stopping in for a 5 minute vacation! You are so talented. Great success to you and the new album!!!!!"

Mike Stacy - WRCH 100.5FM, Hartford, CT - Mike Stacy, WRCH


"UK Panchat loves Bickley"

"I have listened to your songs and have fallen in love again..You are blessed with a beautiful voice. I'm Groovin' in Rio too!"

Dave Vine - Pan Chat Radio, London, England - David Vine


"Various radio listeners around the Globe"

“ I have a strong passion for this artists music,it so serene and touching,when feeling so low ”,
“ Your songs are amazing...keep going!!!! ”,
“ Awesome sounding music that makes the man behind my eyes dance to the beat of the ear drums! ”,
“ listening to at work .... nice and upbeat! ”,
“ I like the sound ...I feel as tho im cruzin ”,
“ Reminds me of Andy Narell Music from Trinidad! ”,
“ So refreshing !! ”,
“ Makes you think of summertime in the winter! (smile) ”,
“ love it..happy smooth rythym. Taste of summer! ”,
“ Great Samba Rhythm...makes me think I'm on holiday in the Caribbean ”,
“ Lovely! ”,
“ Great sound and vibe. Lets hear more of her! I like the jazzy Steel pan! ” - Radio Listeners


Discography

Chillin' After Five album released in 2010; Single "Groovin' in Rio", "Chillin' After Five", "Pan Funk", "Take Me Away" and "Dreams of Ibiza" featured on radio and internet streams in over 50 countries worldwide. Single "Endless Journey" released in late 2010 featured on TV in January & February 2011.

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Bio

On her aptly titled national recording debut Chillin’ After Five, composer and multi-instrumentalist Bickley Rivera brings a fresh taste of Caribbean flair to the contemporary jazz scene with a unique instrument – the tenor steelpan. Blending the seductive tropical vibe of pan and keys with harmonies and featured solos on guitar and sax, the Tampa Bay based artist runs the stylistic gamut from pop to jazz funk to Brazilian to reggae. Mastering the arts of chillout and nu jazz, Bickley's Chillin’ After Five includes guest appearances by several prominent international recording artists, including Dutch saxophonist/flutist Praful (best known for his #1 instrumental hit “Sigh”); Magrus Borges, drummer for bossa nova singer Bebel Gilberto; and renowned saxophonist Ed Calle.

One of Bickley's pre-release singles from the album, "Groovin' In Rio", was featured regularly on CBS's WRCH 100.5FM radio in Southern New England and has been heard around the world in over 50 countries - including, Austria, Switzerland, Greece, UK, Bahamas and US. Other tracks have been featured on The Weather Channel (TV), resorts/spas and hotels in Switzerland, Muzak around the globe, and internet, satellite and digital radio programs.

Rivera's performances demonstrate the chill concept she created from her island experiences and transport the listener to a place of euphoria. "It only took me 30 seconds of hearing her music to decide that this was a music group I wanted to be part of" says David Nunez, drummer for Bickley's Nujazz group. She has performed in New England, Midwest, Florida and Bahamas.

"Bickley Rivera’s remarkably inventive and revolutionary vibe on “Chillin’ After Five” takes the pans into a more mainstream pop-jazz context with more exotic twists than the limes on the tropical bar counter. As if her stylistic diversity wasn’t enough—she grooves in Ibiza, jams in Brazil and lets you relax with some of the tastiest chill music I’ve ever heard.” –Jonathan Widran

“The perfect combination of tropical summer sounds of the Caribbean mixed in with funky groovin melodies of smooth jazz. An incredible talent." - Mary Ann Wexler, US Smooth Jazz

“Her music is ground-breaking!” - Nancy J. Reid and Lisa D. Smith, Big Blend Radio, Green Valley, AZ