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Jazz maestro releases two new albums

With the release of his latest two CDs, Sequim musician Craig Buhler argues that hope can be renewed and pop hits can "grow up" to be jazz standards.

"Renewed Hope," a 14-track worship CD, offers a selection of lyrics taken directly from holy Scriptures. All the music was composed by Buhler and features the lead vocals of Rick Tatum, a multitalented musician who has recorded with multiple top artists including six-time Grammy winner Michael McDonald.

"Skykomish" offers 10 pop hits by artists including the Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Gordon Lightfoot and the Doobie Brothers recast as jazz tunes, plus two original songs by Buhler.

"Granted, the process of importing pop songs into the jazz universe can be risky," Buhler said.

"Hopefully, some of the arrangements on 'Skykomish' will strike a chord in you.

"We believe that experiment is worth taking and hope you will enjoy the results as much as we relished the (creating) process."

Forrest Dylan Bryant of Jazz Times said, "Reed player Craig Buhler mixes up jaunty swing tunes with straightforward ballads on this agreeable, spirited release delivered crisply and succinctly."

Ken Dryden, of All Music Guide, gave the album four out of five stars, and said, "This independent jazz release easily stands out from the competition and is warmly recommended."

In addition to his solo career, Buhler is musical director of the 18-piece Stardust Big Band and leader of the combo Jazz 101. He's easily recognized on stage as the man with a tiny telescope on his glasses, playing the saxophone. As a child, a vision problem prevented Buhler from playing sports but paved the road to his fame as a musician.

"On the baseball diamond I'm a disaster, but in the band I'm a success," he often jokes.

Buhler describes music as his passion in life - a universal language that communicates to everybody even when words fail.

When he's not in the studio practicing or recording, Buhler commonly is sharing his enthusiasm for jazz with others. He serves as the improvisation coach for Northwest Big Band workshops, the Sequim High School Jazz Band, Northwinds Jazz Band and Jazz in the Olympics Society Youth Band.

Equally impressive as his resumé are the stories of his time on the road with HONK, a California rock band that's released five CDs, toured nationally with the Beach Boys, Chicago and Santana, and continues to sell out Orange County venues.

For more information or to purchase a CD, go online to www.craigbuhler.com.

Ashley Miller can be reached at ashleyo@sequimgazette.com.



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