Rising Ladies of Smooth Jazz (Pt. 1) — Featured Smooth Jazz Artist Archives (2017)

Nov. 2017

Jazmin Ghent, Kayla Waters, Magdalena Chovancova – Rising Ladies of Smooth Jazz (Part 1)

Jazmin Ghent

Jazmin Deborah Ghent is a gospel, jazz, and contemporary saxophonist. Born in Heidelberg, Germany and raised in Huntsville, Alabama, she became interested in music at age 5 when she began taking piano lessons. She became the Sunday school pianist at the age of 8 and often practiced with the adult musicians and church choir members. After being introduced to the saxophone in middle school, she progressed to becoming the church pianist and saxophonist. Ghent won numerous All State Honor Band awards. Once in high school, she discovered her passion for performing and teaching and began playing professionally in the Huntsville, Alabama area.

The lovely young saxtress won national awards such as the NAACP’s ACT-SO competition and was chosen to perform at the NAACP closing ceremony in Orlando, Florida in 2008. She was chosen for 3 consecutive years as 1st chair tenor saxophonist for the All State Jazz Band. She was also offered a full tuition scholarship in 2009 to Berklee School of Music as well as Florida State University School of Music. She attended Florida State University and was lead tenor in the symphonic band and performed with the jazz band/ensemble in several venues. She graduated in May 2013 and received a degree in Music Education. She has also earned a Master’s Degree in Music Education from Tennessee State University.

The doors to Ghent’s professional musical career opened when she opened for the Sirius XM Hall of Fame Ceremony hosted by Marcus Miller aboard the 2014 Smooth Jazz Cruise. The moment was witnessed by our very own Ronald Jackson. Her smooth and soulful rendition of the classic “Summertime” prompted our CEO to predict that “we would be hearing a lot more of this young woman.”

The following year, 2015, Jazmin’s debut CD, Boss, was released and produced two chart-topping singles, “Compared to What” and the title track. The CD was #32 according to Smooth Jazz Global radio’s top 50 Smooth Jazz CDs for 2015. “Compared to What” gained national recognition and was #5 on Smooth Jazz Charts. It received over 320 spins per week including airplay on Sirius XM radio as well as Music Choice, Pandora and Spotify. Jazmin has since released her sophomore album, Chocolate Sunshine, which features gifted musicians like Johnathan Fritzen, Julian Vaughn, Nelson Rangell, and Adam Hawley. This young artist continues to impress and add longevity to a promising career.


Kayla Waters

Pianist, singer, and composer Kayla Waters is an ebullient, classically trained, crossover jazz performer. Born into a musical family, Waters was introduced to music via her father, acclaimed smooth jazz saxophonist Kim Waters. From the age of six, she studied classical piano and eventually earned her Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance from Howard University in Washington, DC.

As a performer, she made her debut playing on several of her father’s albums before launching her own career. The younger Waters’ new single “I Am” soared upward and hit #1 on Billboard’s Smooth Jazz Chart just 10 weeks after its debut. Coupled with the release of her first record Apogee in February, success is indubitably on the way for this new artist.

This charmer vocalist has eloquently found herself welcoming and utilizing a plethora of opportunities to tour the world and play with several musical legends and major recording artists. The distinctive list includes musical giants such as Stevie Wonder, Patrice Rushen, Avery*Sunshine, and Maysa Leak, to name a few.

Last April, her gifts garnered her national recognition on the BET television network’s highly acclaimed “Black Girls Rock” awards show. She expertly played keyboards for the legendary Gladys Knight, Marsha Ambrosius, Corinne Bailey Rae, and Imani Uzuri. She was also a featured performing artist at the first annual Fender Rhodes Fest in Los Angeles, California last summer along with a host of stellar music contemporaries.

When she is not performing, the beautiful and endearing Waters is busy serving as the Director of Music and Worship at Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church in Washington, DC. She’s also the Music Director of the Howard University Early Learning Program, where she obtained her Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance (Summa Cum Laude). As a budding recording artist and producer, Kayla is also a member of the Grammy Recording Academy.

She acknowledges that God is at the forefront of everything she does. It is He who orders her steps and, for this, she is eternally grateful. Yes, she does seem to be truly blessed.

Magdalena Chovancova

The talented and striking saxtress Chovancova was born in Ostrava, Czech Republic. She began to play the piano at the age of 6 before moving on to learn the saxophone and flute. Still in her teens, she won several national music competitions and began recording and touring together with other musicians and bands. After her studies in Prague, she moved to Germany where she founded the Threestyle band together with Robert Fertl (guitar, bass, trumpet) and her twin sister (younger by three minutes!) Gabriela Chovancova (drums, vibraphone).

The Germany-based band has been together for over ten years during which time they have released 5 albums and over an incredible 400 single releases. Their most recent album, Smooth Ride, included the single “Road to Monterey,” which spent 4 weeks at number one on the American Groove jazz music charts and 12 months on Billboard. Chovancova and Threestyle mainly record their own compositions in which they blend smooth jazz, fusion, chillout, and lounge-music.

The band has collaborated with many musicians over the years. Smooth Ride, for example, features a stellar blend of amazing musicians – LA-based Latonya Black Gilliard on vocals, renowned bassist Jimmy Haslip (who has played for the Yellowjackets, Joe Cocker, and Cher, amongst others), Lew Laing on keys, Roberto Valley (bassist for George Benson and Randy Crawford), James Manning (bassist for Billy Preston and Chaka Khan), and Chris Troy on keys, just to mention a few. Other musicians who have worked with Threestyle over the years include Chris de Burgh, Chris Norman, Paul Brown, Gail Johnson (Jazz in Pink), Katja Rieckermann (Rod Stewart), Mack (Queen, ELO, Rolling Stones), Nils, Lew Laing, Marcus Anderson, Roberto Vally, Matt Marshak, and more.

Threestyle has toured in over than 60 countries worldwide, from the U.S. (Palm Springs, Las Vegas, LA/Hollywood) to South Africa (Shiraz Jazz Festival, China Expo), Indonesia, Brazil, Australia to the Caribbean and throughout Europe.

Away from music, Chovancova loves cooking. She says “There’s a great affinity between a lovely meal and a beautifully performed piece of music. For both, you have to select your ingredients very carefully and blend them in just the right way to give the best results.” Whatever she’s “cooking,” musically or otherwise, I’m having.

These lovely ladies represent what we can expect from the genre in years going forward. None should be missed as their fingerprints will be all over the genre for many years to come. – Steve Giachardi

To view the complete discographies for these ladies, and to track their activities (tours, concerts, etc,), visit http://jazminghent.net/ for Jazmin Ghent, http://www.bandsintown.com/KaylaWaters for Kayla Waters’ calendar; click here for her discography, and http://threestylejazz.com for Magdalena Chovancova’s discography (no tour dates available at this time