Tuesday, July 12th, 2016 5:22 PM
Since breaking through to contemporary urban jazz stardom in the early 2000s, Nick Colionne has been one of the genre´s most dynamic and tireless live performers, headlining hundreds of shows and energizing fans across the U.S. and Europe with his sizzling blend of jazz, R&B, funk, blues and soulful, seductive vocals. Over the years, the charismatic, inspirationally fashionable (courtesy of designer Stacy Adams) Chicago based guitarist´s album titles have kept everyone in the loop as to where his musical heart is. He has mastered the art of Keepin´ It Cool (2006), pushed musical boundaries to a place where there are No Limits (2008), urged us to Feel The Heat (2011) and later explored some of his deepest Influences (2014).

On his 2016 Trippin ´N´ Rhythm album The Journey, Nick takes stock of his extraordinary career, the wonderful musicians he´s played with, the people he´s entertained, and the amazing places he´s traveled. It´s taken him to great heights recently, as the three Top 5 singles from Influences led him to be named Billboard´s #5 Artist of the Year for 2015. Nick keeps the forward momentum going with the infectious and grooving title track and lead single from The Journey. Upon its recent release, it earned a "#1 Most-Added" designation on iTunes and Billboard, and quickly reached #1 on the Billboard Smooth Jazz and Groove Jazz Music charts.

The Journey is the perfect album title for an artist who has become one of the most in-demand headliners on the circuit, playing up to 75 shows a year throughout the country at top festivals (Berks Jazz Fest, Capital Jazz Fest, Catalina Jazz Trax Festival, Seabreeze Jazz Festival, JazzFest West, Punta Gorda Jazz Festival, Thornton Winery Jazz Series), on popular cruises (Capital Jazz Cruise, The Smooth Jazz Cruise, Dave Koz Cruise) and in other top venues. Expanding his reach to Europe in recent years, Nick has performed several times at the Smooth Jazz Festival Augsburg in Germany, the Mallorca Smooth Jazz Festival and Pizza Express Jazz Club in London.

Nick has received numerous accolades throughout his multi-faceted career, including the 2007 International Instrumental Artist of the Year Award at the Wave Jazz Awards, where he succeeded 2006 winner Chris Botti. He was also chosen Artist of the Year at the 2011 Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival and Performer of the Year for Jazz Trax Jazz Festivals in 2010 and 2011. In 2010, Nick was nominated as Guitarist of the Year and Entertainer of the Year by the American Smooth Jazz Awards and received the Wayman Tisdale Humanitarian Award for his ongoing commitment to mentoring children, his work in the community and nationally in support of breast cancer causes. The recipient of the 1996 Malcom X College Alumnus of the Year Award (he earned his degree there in music), Colionne has devoted much of his spare time over the past 20 years to mentoring children at St. Laurence K-8 School in Elgin, Illinois. His roles include counseling, teaching music, computer music skills and guitar, and producing talent shows and holiday pageants.

Though most urban jazz fans were first introduced to Nick via his 2003 hit single "High Flyin´" (which was one of the genre´s Top Ten songs that year), folks in "The Big Windy" started grooving to him much sooner with his early album releases, starting with It´s My Turn in 1994. Fully in line with the sense of gratitude and reflection that drives The Journey, he includes on the new album the sensual and reflective "East Evergreen Revisited," which first appeared as "East Evergreen" on his recording debut. It is his way of not only coming full circle creatively, but also paying tribute to Carol Ray, his longtime partner, manager and guiding force in his life who passed away in 2013, as "East Evergreen" was the name of the street Carol lived on when Nick wrote it.

Aside from showcasing his incredible skills on the Epiphone Nick Colionne ES175 Premium (his own name model!), the Epiphone Sheridan, the Epiphone Broadway Elitist, Epiphone Swingster and Gibson L-4 C, The Journey also features Nick collaborating with a unique array of jazz and R&B talent. Wanting to explore a deeper palette of flavors, moods and attitudes, Nick invites Grammy nominee and Soul Train Award winning sax great Najee to play on the old school funk jam "Buckle Up" and complements his own compositions (including the percussive blues funk jam "On the Move" and the title track) with tunes written and produced by legendary Pieces of a Dream keyboardist James Lloyd (the sensual ballad "Say What´s On Your Mind," and Chris "Big Dog" Davis (Maysa, Will Downing, Chante Moore). Lloyd and Davis previously worked with Nick on Influences. The coolly grooving, atmospheric mid-tempo tune "Uncle Nick" was written and produced by emerging urban jazz keyboardist Nicholas Cole, who refers to the guitarist in this affectionate way. Saxophonist and producer Darren Rahn mixed on four tracks.

"Working with all these great artists made me think of how blessed I have been throughout my career to work with so many great musicians whose work I have admired," says Nick, who honed his skills as a teenager gigging with The Staples Singers, The Impressions and late greats Curtis Mayfield and Natalie Cole. When I was coming up in the ranks, I was so excited to be playing shows with guys like Gerald Albright, Richard Elliot and Rick Braun, whose music I had been listening to for years. My personal journey has thankfully led me to a point where they became friends and peers. For me, the most amazing thing is that I´m still here, able to perform and tour with musicians I love; I continue to receive love and support from my fans and meet so many warm, inspiring people every day. They have truly made The Journey a remarkable experience for me."

Jonathan Widran 2016